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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.

Cruise News - July, 21 2014

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Costa Concordia Begins Final Voyage
(July 23) At 11:00 am local time, Costa Concordia – the Concordia class cruise ship that wrecked along shores of Giglio Island, Italy, in January 2012 – was disconnected from mooring cables and began its final voyage to an assigned berth in Port of Genoa Voltri, Italy, some 200 miles away. The project is the largest and one of the most technically complex maritime salvage jobs ever completed.

Costa Concordia Begins Final VoyageCurrently moving at an average speed of two knots, the slow and precise tow of the disabled cruise ship is being made by a convoy comprised of at least 10 other vessels. There are two tugs, with a combined 24,000 horsepower and 275 tons of bollard pull, at the ship’s bow towing the hull. Another two auxiliary tugs are positioned aft. The other vessels in the convoy, including a pontoon with a 200-tonne crane, are carrying personnel and equipment. A team of marine biologists are present during the tow and the convoy is being preceded by a specialized marine mammals-watching vessel. The convoy is anticipated to arrive in Genoa on Saturday, July 26, about mid-day pending favorable weather and vessel traffic in the area.

To ensure the continued integrity of this historic and unprecedented project, TITAN Salvage’s Nick Sloane, senior salvage master, and Rich Habib, salvage director, are onboard the Costa to provide around-the-clock, hands-on monitoring of the vessel’s list, ballasting, speed and more.

The sailing route will take the vessels south between the island of Giglio and Giannutri before heading west-southwest to a point south of the island of Montecristo. The convoy will then head west-northwest to a position south of the island called Scoglio d’Africa before crossing the Ligurian Sea to the Port of Genoa Voltri.

“This is the latest achievement in a very long series of detailed wreck removal phases,” explained TITAN’s Chris Peterson, vice president. “We have patiently and eagerly planned for this move and only upon confirming that is was safe to do so, got underway.”

Once the tow arrives in Genoa, it will be safely berthed thus successfully ending the historic salvage project. The T-M salvage team will assist with the transfer of the vessel to the Genoa consortium that will perform the dismantling.

Crystal Cruises To Sail Northwest Passage In 2016
Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage – one so mysterious and remote (500 miles north of the Arctic Circle), that explorers spent centuries seeking the passage, until it was first completed successfully by Roald Amundsen just over 100 years ago.

Crystal will be the first luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of majestic waterways lined with spectacular glaciers, towering fjords, and vast unspoiled landscapes away from mainstream civilization and tourism, north of mainland Canada. Beginning August 16, 2016 in Anchorage/Seward, Alaska, the award-winning Crystal Serenity will sail for 32 days from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean/New York City.

Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage"Crystal's inaugural Northwest Passage offers guests the opportunity to begin a new story of thrilling adventure, all the while indulging in the world's very best luxury vacation experience," said Crystal President Edie Rodriguez. "The voyage combines intrepid adventure, the great outdoors, and immersive cultural experiences with Six-Star service as only Crystal can deliver."

Crystal's Executive Vice President Thomas Mazloum spearheaded the strategic planning of the itinerary, with the help of Expedition Voyage Consulting by EYOS Expeditions, providers of bespoke expeditions to the most remote regions on Earth in safety and luxury.

"From reviewing operations with Canadian officials to meeting with Inuit elders of the Arctic who have provided their backing, our team has spent almost two years diligently gathering the field experts, information, resources, and support to ensure an epic experience that is exceptionally rewarding and safe for guests and crew, and respectful of local lands and cultures," says Mazloum. "During this voyage, speakers will enlighten guests on information regarding climate change, and how it has impacted this passage. With the recent retreat of polar ice, the time is right for us to lead the way within the travel industry, as Crystal has done throughout our 25-year history."

Following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers, the once-in-a-lifetime journey through once-unpassable waterways marks Crystal's maiden expedition-style itinerary and a break from many cruising traditions. Approaches to itinerary scheduling, destination visits, onboard offerings, and safety standards are all new or enhanced, with major changes including:

A flexible itinerary: Extra "surprise" days are built into the schedule to allow unplanned "calls of the wild" for polar bear-viewing, whale-watching, glacier-cruising, scenic helicopter flights, and/or seeking out the best wildlife and weather on the advice of local specialist guides.

Crystal will introduce "Wilderness Adventures" that take guests across polar tundra, up ice-strewn fjords, and into scenic coves to explore areas in and near maiden ports-of-call. Travelers will also be able to respectfully visit the small, remote communities and uninhabited, unscheduled spaces/lands/waterways en route – often with champagne waiting at the other end. Although some excursions will only be determined "in the moment" based on circumstances and environment, Crystal will spend the next two years planning a plethora of excursions and "Arctic safaris" involving kayaks, Zodiacs, a helicopter, ATVs, fishing, hiking, climbing, golfing at the world's northernmost nine-hole course, and even possible camping and/or overnighting away from the ship. Voluntourism opportunities to help local lands and communities will also be offered complimentarily to guests and crew via the line's "You Care. We Care." program.

A 14-person expedition team of experts in a variety of subjects -- including a native Arctic guide, scientists, and accomplished wildlife and landscape photographers -- will not only provide lectures on subjects such as the science and history of the area, but also offer hands-on seminars and workshops, host dinners with guests, guide wildlife watching from the ship, and accompany excursions, where appropriate.

Guests will be given a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the lifestyles of these small and remote communities during port visits, with activities created in partnership with the communities. Designed to show modern life today in the Arctic, as well as the rich cultural heritage of the region, visits will include demonstrations of local arts and crafts, Arctic sports, traditional drum dancing and throat singing, and tastings of local foods, such as Arctic char and bannock bread.

Embracing the spirit of expedition, Crystal's usual onboard atmosphere of rest and relaxation will be relaxed even further with wardrobe (complimentary parkas, boot rentals, outfitter recommendations, and no "black tie optional" nights) and cuisine that, although still gourmet, is modified to reflect the locale and limited ability to re-supply goods and store waste during the month-long voyage.

Ports-of-Call: Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome*, Alaska; Ulukhaktok*, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay* and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat*, Sisimiut*, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York, New York. (*=maiden call)

Waterways: North Pacific Ocean; Bering Sea & Bering Strait; Chukchi & Beaufort Seas; Amundsen Gulf; Dolphin & Union Strait; Coronation Gulf; Dease Strait; Queen Maud Gulf; Victoria Strait; Larsen Sound; Franklin & Bellot Straits; Peel Sound; Parry Channel; Barrow Strait; Prince Regent Inlet; Lancaster Sound; Croker Bay; Navy Board Inlet; Eclipse Sound; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Labrador Sea; North Atlantic Ocean.

Crystal Serenity and its escort vessel will be using low-sulphur Marine Gas oil fuel, exceeding environmental regulations. The escort vessel will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as personnel specifically trained in its use. In addition, it will serve as a platform for a helicopter and zodiacs, and be manned by a crew highly experienced in all aspects of operating safely in this unique area.

NCL Bans Smoking On Balconies
NCL Bans Smoking On BalconiesNorwegian Cruise Line is the latest cruise line to ban smoking on cruise ship balconies, effective November 1 of this year. The move follows Carnival Cruise Lines' announcement earlier this month that it was going to stop allowing guests to smoke on balconies as of Oct. 9.

In addition to the ban on balcony smoking, NCL said that smoking in the onboard casinos will only be allowed by active players. Smokers on the cruise line's newest ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway will still be able to smoke on the starboard side of The Waterfront except near outdoor dining locations.

NCL's policy even affects electronic cigarettes which will also be banned in all public areas where smoking is prohibited. The cruise said they were taking this position because electronic cigarettes look so realistic that they might be mistaken as tobacco cigarettes by other passengers.

Passengers caught smoking in unauthorized areas will be subject to a $250 fine which will be added to their shipboard account.

Financial Highlights
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) has announced that it has declared a dividend of $0.25 per share.

The company's board of directors approved a record date for the quarterly dividend of August 22, 2014, and a payment date of September 12, 2014.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock and Carnival plc ADSs will receive the dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in U.S. dollars or sterling. In the absence of instructions or elections to the contrary, holders of Carnival plc ordinary shares will automatically receive the dividend in sterling.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on September 2, 2014. Holders of Carnival plc ordinary shares wishing to receive their dividend in U.S. dollars or participate in the Carnival plc Dividend Reinvestment Plan must elect to do so by August 22, 2014

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.25 - 1.73%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.39 + 0.56%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 - 3.97%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.89 - 2.54%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Holland America's Volendam and Veendam of 1971 both started life sailing under different names for a different cruise line. What were their original names and what line did they sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - It was Princess Grace of Monaco who had sailed on her to marry Prince Rainier in 1956.
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie, Guam USA

Cruise News - July, 14 2014

Costa Concordia Refloat Has Begun
According to the Parbuckling Project website, which was set up as an information source by the consortium responsible for the Costa Concordia removal, the refloating operations to remove the ship from the sea bed started on scheduled at 6:00 am Monday, July 14th.

Costa Concordia Refloat Has BegunBy noon on the 14th, Costa Concordia’s stern and bow were detached from the false sea bed by about 1 meter and the wreck was floating thanks to the sponsons attached to either side.

By 8:00 pm Costa Concordia had risen by another meter from the sea bed and the wreck was towed 30 meters East of its previous position. At the end of the day technicians confirmed that the wreck was afloat thanks to the buoyancy given by sponsons, 2 2 meters off the false sea bed, and that the wreck was securely moored and that the first phase of the refloating operations had ended.

On July 15th, the preliminary underwater activities related to the beginning of the last phase of the refloating operation of the Concordia were under way. Technicians spent part of the day working to connect and tension the last 4 chains and 6 cables. The wreck remained in stable position and securely moored.

Currently there are more than 300 people working 24/7 in Giglio to prepare the wreck for the refloating phase.

The refloating work is expected to continue through Friday, July 18th and the plan calls for the wreck to begin her tow to the scrapyard on Saturday, July 19th. Once refloated, the 170-mile trip to Genoa is expected to take five days at a cruising speed of 1.5 knots.

Norwegian Cruise Line Orders Two New Ships
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it has reached an agreement with MEYER WERFT GmbH of Germany to build two new Breakaway-Plus class cruise ships for delivery in the second quarter 2018 and the fourth quarter 2019. Each ship will be 164,600 gross tons and include 4,200 passenger berths.

Norwegian Cruise Line Orders Two New Ships"Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have proven themselves as industry game-changers and are extremely popular with our guests," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "It was only natural that we build on their success with this new ship order that further solidifies our long-term growth strategy."

The contract price for both ships is approximately euro 1.6 billion. The Company has export credit financing in place for each ship, arranged and underwritten by KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH of Germany.

"We are thrilled that Norwegian Cruise Line has the continued confidence in MEYER WERFT to expand their fleet," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of MEYER WERFT. "We are very proud of our longstanding relationship with Norwegian."

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the concept of Freestyle Cruising which offers guests the freedom and flexibility to enjoy their cruise vacation on their own terms, including multiple dining venues, relaxed attire, a variety of accommodations and world-class entertainment. The Company took Freestyle Cruising to the next level with the introduction of Norwegian Epic in June 2010 and subsequently launched two game-changing vessels, Norwegian Breakaway based in New York in May 2013 and Norwegian Getaway homeported in Miami in February 2014. These ships incorporate groundbreaking design, including The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues on three dynamic decks that create a whole new complex at sea and connect guests with the ocean.

For a complete list of cruise ships scheduled to be built, please visit our New Ship Guide

Viking Ocean Cruises Names Godmother Of New Viking Star
Viking Ocean Cruises announced that Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen, Norway, will be godmother to Viking Star and will officially "name" the ship during a christening ceremony on May 17, 2015 – Norwegian Constitution Day. "Trude," as she is known throughout Norway, was on-hand at the shipyard to assist with the float-out ceremony, helping weld coins to the ship – a good luck practice that dates back to Roman times – and cutting a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship"I am so privileged to be godmother to the new Viking Star," said Drevland. "She will be the soul of Scandinavia, with some touches of Bergen. I will love it!"

"For our first ocean ship it was very important to have a godmother who personifies our company's Scandinavian heritage and the Viking spirit, so it is an absolute honor to have Trude as godmother to Viking Star," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises and a native of Norway. "Bergen, with its colorful harbor and stunning scenery, has always been one of my favorite cities, and we are delighted for our guests to experience it firsthand starting next spring." Trude Drevland, Godmother of Viking Star is one of the city's most charismatic and recognizable citizens. She is known for her many civic engagements and support of the arts, having served as a member of the City Council and as Deputy Mayor from 2007 until she was elected Mayor in 2011. For five years, she served as General Secretary of the Norwegian Band Federation, the biggest volunteer music organization in Norway, and she was the Leader of Business Development for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 2002 to 2003. Born in Northern Norway, Drevland began her career as a nurse, eventually rising to various roles in healthcare administration, before entering public service. Leading up to the arrival of Viking Star in Bergen, Drevland has also showcased her city in some of Viking's other online videos, which explore the cultural treasures of the Baltic region.

Carnival Signs Exclusive Agreement With Cigar City Brewing
Capitalizing on the growing popularity of craft beer in the U.S., Carnival Cruise Lines has entered into an exclusive agreement to offer Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing's craft beers on all of its Florida-based ships.

Cigar City's Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Invasion Pale Ale will be available on 13 Carnival ships sailing from five Florida ports beginning this week. Combined, those ships carry more than two million guests each year.

Carnival Signs Exclusive Agreement With Cigar City BrewingThe agreement — the first partnership of this magnitude between a craft brewery and a major cruise line — was announced Sunday, July 13, at an event aboard Carnival Legend at the Port of Tampa.

"Carnival continues to seek high-quality brands to enhance our guests' experience, and Cigar City Brewing has been rated among the top craft breweries in the world," said Eddie Allen, Carnival's vice president of beverage operations. "Cigar City Brewing craft beers are a fantastic addition to our already extensive beverage menus and will provide our guests a chance to enjoy two delicious and refreshing beers that aren't available on any other cruise line." Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

"Cigar City Brewing could not be happier than to partner with another great Florida institution, that being Carnival Cruise Lines. Everyone at Cigar City Brewing is thrilled to start this wonderful partnership," said Joe Burns, national sales manager for Cigar City Brewing.

Carnival has 13 Florida-based ships sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas, including Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral; Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend from Tampa, and Carnival Fascination from Jacksonville.

Cigar City's Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is named for the colonial-era "Cracker" cowboys of Florida. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with unmalted wheat, orange peel and coriander, which ends with a spicy, dry finish. The beer pours cloudy straw in color and has moderate notes of orange peel, coriander and hints of vanilla.

Gold in color, Invasion Pale Ale is Cigar City's version of a "session" beer (a beer with a relatively low alcohol content), in a hoppy ale that celebrates Tampa's alleged history of being a pirate hideout. The tropical aroma offers suggestions of peach, mango, lime and papaya. Invasion has a light caramel malt character laced with a slight "breadiness" and the finish offers a bounty of tropical and citrus hop flavor and bitterness.

Unlike most U.S. craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing packages most of its beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are the most widely recycled containers in the United States, and aluminum may be reused repeatedly without loss of strength or quality. From a beer drinker's perspective, cans have zero light penetration to better preserve the integrity of the brew, they chill faster, are easier to store and have a longer shelf life than bottles. Cans also are shatterproof and therefore are allowed where bottles are not — such as poolside. Producing new cans from recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.895 - 2.02%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.08 - 3.22%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 - 0.66%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.72 + 1.05%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the former American Export liner Constitution returned to service for American Hawaii cruises in 1982 she was rechristened by one of her famous former passengers. Who was given this honor?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ship received a repreive from the ship breakers to star in the 1976 re-make of the movie "Voyage of the Damned". Hint: for her role as the St. Louis she was fitted with twin dummy funnels.

Answer - Irpinia, was the ship used in the movie Voyage of the Damned!!
courtesy of Bruce A. McKenzie

Cruise News - July, 7 2014

AIDA Cruises Suspends Israel Calls After Rocket Debris Lands On AIDAdiva
AIDA Cruises Suspends Israel Calls After Rocket Debris Lands On AIDAdivaGerman cruise operator AIDA Cruises announced today that is suspending port calls in Israel for two months following an incident where shrapnel from an apparently intercepted rocket landed on the deck of AIDAdiva. The incident occured Monday evening as the 825 ft. cruise ship with more than 2,500 passengers aboard was departing from the Israel port of Ashdod.

In a statement released by AIDA, which is part of Miami-based Carnival Corp,. the company said that there were no injuries or damage to the ship and that all 2,700 guests and crew members of AIDAdiva were doing well.

"We are very sorry that the guests of AIDAdiva were witnesses to this incident," said Hansjorg Kunze, vice president of communications & sustainability for the cruise line. "We assure all our guests that for AIDA Cruises safety of guests and crew is our top priority at all times."

The small pieces of shrapnel were discovered on the upper passenger decks of the ship as it was departing Ashdod and were examined and determined to pose no danger to passengers or crew. Passengers were informed of the incident and the ship continued to its next schedule port of call.

Ships that had been scheduled to visit Ashdod will instead call at Santorini, Greece, the line said in a statement.

Nicaragua Approves $40 Billion Alternative To Panama Canal
The Nicaraguan government this week announced details of a proposed $40 billion canal project that is intended to compete with the Panama Canal and will link the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. During a presentation at a Managua hotel it was revealed that the planned canal will be 173 miles long, 250-580 yards wide and 90 feet deep and it will be capable of handling the largest container ships in service today and should be able to support any new ships built for years to come.

Nicaragua Approves $40 Billion Alternative To Panama CanalThe canal plan is still subject to environmental and social impact studies but during the announcement but both Nicaraguan government and HKND officials said that they expect work to begin by the end of 2014 and for the canal to be completed within five years.

According to Dong Yunsong, HKND chief of engineers, six routes were considered before the company eventually settled on a route that originates on the Pacific Ocean side of the country at the mouth of the Brito River and travels south across 65 miles of Lake Nicaragua. Once across the lake the canal will head along the Tule and Punta Gordas rivers and terminate on the Caribbean side at Bluefields Bay.

Dong said that the project is expected to provide jobs for more than 50,000 workers during construction phase and will generate an additional 150,000 jobs when it becomes operational. The entire project will consist of six parts including the construction of: the channel, two deep-water ports, a free-trade area, tourism projects in San Lorenzo and an airport in the city of Rivas.

"This project can greatly reduce the distance between countries of Asia and North America, and to the east coast of South America,” he added.

According to the announcement, HKND Group will have the right to dig and operate the canal for an initial term of 50 years, with the possibility of renewing the agreement for another 50 years. The Supreme Court in Managua approved the project, ruling that a Chinese-operated waterway did not infringe on the nation’s constitution.

The idea of a Nicaraguan canal has been around for centuries with the first plan surfacing in the 16th century. The biggest problem in the past, and still a challenge today, is how to actually pay for the design and construct a canal that will be more than three time longer than the 49-mile Panama Canal. While the budget is currently pegged at $40 billion, some expert have estimated that the cost could eventually run as high as $100 billion.

Another issue specific to the route selected is the environmental impact of connecting Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest source of freshwater to the salt waters of the Pacific and Caribbean. During the announcement, Dong downplayed these concerns saying the operation will not cause significant water changes to Lake Nicaragua or affect water use by residents of the watershed.

“The channel will use mainly the water in the basin of the river Punta Gorda, which is sufficient to operate the channel," he said. An artificial lake will also be formed after the construction of the canal with an area of 154 square miles.

Royal Caribbean Using Google’s Street View On Allure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International today announced it is changing the way how people plan their vacations by working with Google to be the first cruise line to launch Google Maps Business View using Google’s Street View technology onboard the world’s largest and innovative cruise ship Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Will Use Google’s Street View On Allure of the SeasBy using Street View technology, Royal Caribbean International will provide consumers with an immersive and interactive experience when they are searching for a vacation.

"Business View allows people all over the world to explore a range of businesses and organizations in great detail in just a few clicks” said Deborah Schenker - Program Manager at Google UK, “You can check out anything from restaurants to aircraft in Google Maps, and now for the first time you can sail the seas too with the first ever cruise ship coming on board."

With just a few clicks, guests will be able to virtually walk through the various decks of Allure of the Seas including the Royal Promenade, a boulevard that runs nearly the length of the ship, flanked by restaurants, boutiques and lounges; Central Park, an outdoor park longer than a football pitch complete with over 12,000 live plants and trees; the Boardwalk, featuring a hand-crafted carousel, two rock-climbing walls and the AquaTheater, a high-dive aquatic performance venue with the deepest pool at sea; Entertainment Place, with an elaborate theatre, night club, comedy club, jazz club and ice-skating rink, which offers professionally produced ice shows; the Pool and Sports Deck featuring a zip line, twin FlowRider surf simulators, full-size basketball/sports court, nine-hole mini-golf course, 15 pools and whirlpools and 22 restaurants, and many, many more.

Vacationers will be able to access the technology, a first for the cruise industry at http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/royalview or via Google Search results, Google Maps and Google+ whether they’re using their computers, smartphones or tablets.

Jo Briody, director of marketing & PR, Royal Caribbean International commented: “We’re thrilled to be at the forefront of the industry when it comes to delivering innovative consumer facing technologies, whether it be Roboscreens and digital shows on our newest ships or Google Street View technology on our website. Consumers go online to research their vacations and this is the closest they can get to actually being onboard. We are confident that once people get virtually immersed in Allure of the Seas’ various decks and features thanks to Google Street View technology, they’ll be eager to experience the real thing.”

Over 20,000 images were taken over the course of 60 man hours and eight days to complete the virtual representation of the ship which stands taller than Nelson’s Column (165 feet) at 240 feet high and can accommodate more guests per sailing than the capacity of the Royal Albert Hall (5,544 seats).

The images were taken using a basic DSLR camera using a fisheye lens and a panoramic head resting on a tripod. This method takes twelve photographs at each point and uses high-dynamic-range imaging to ensure the best exposure for areas of different light.

Chef Todd English To Sail On Queen Mary 2 In July
Cunard Line will welcome celebrity chef and partner Todd English on board Queen Mary 2 on 1 July 2014 for her Independence Day Celebration voyage from New York to Boston. While on board, Chef English will develop a new menu with the flagship’s culinary team, debuting later this summer. The famed restaurateur will also sign copies of his cookbook, Cooking in Everyday English: The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home, and participate in a Q&A with the Entertainment Director.

Chef Todd English To Sail On Queen Mary 2 In July“We are delighted to welcome our longtime partner and friend, Todd English, aboard Queen Mary 2 in July,” said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line. “Our flagship has the distinct honour of featuring the first and only Todd English restaurant at sea. We look forward to having him on board to continue celebrating the ship’s 10th anniversary.”

One of the most decorated, respected and charismatic chefs in the world, Todd English has enjoyed a staggering number of accolades during his remarkable career. He has been recognized by several of the food industry’s most prestigious publications, established one of the best-known restaurant brands in the nation – Olives – and is a four-time James Beard Award winner. In addition, Chef English has four critically-acclaimed cookbooks, including the October 2011 release, Cooking in Everyday English.

“I am looking forward to sailing with Queen Mary 2,” Todd English said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Cunard Line and the beautiful Queen Mary 2 over the past 10 years, and I look forward to celebrating with the ship and meeting guests while on board.”

Since becoming Cunard’s flagship on completion of her maiden Transatlantic Crossing in 2004, Queen Mary 2 has remained unchallenged as the world’s grandest ocean liner ever built and the most famous and fastest passenger ship in operation today. In her first 10 years of service, following a spectacular naming by Her Majesty The Queen on 8 January 2004, Queen Mary 2 has undertaken more than 420 voyages, including over 200 Transatlantic Crossings, and has called at 182 ports in 60 countries.

Holland America Announces Promotions
Holland America Announces PromotionsHolland America Line has promoted Jack Littlemore to director, revenue management operations, and Gabrielle Smith to deputy director, systems user support and operations support, both in the Revenue Management Department.

Littlemore will report to Beth Bodensteiner, Holland America Line’s vice president, revenue management and product marketing, and Smith will report to Littlemore.

“Jack and Gabrielle have been with the company for many years and they bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to their new positions,” said Bodensteiner. “The Revenue Management team continues to evolve, and we congratulate Jack and Gabrielle on their well-deserved promotions.”

Littlemore will oversee the ship inventory and operations support groups in his new role. Additionally, he will be responsible for the systems user support group. He is an expert on the company’s reservations management system (POLAR) and has been in the revenue management department since 2006. Littlemore began his career with Holland America Line in 2001 and held various positions prior to joining revenue management.

Smith will manage the newly combined groups of operations support and systems user support with an emphasis on booking tools. She joined Holland America Line in 1989 and is also a POLAR expert. Until being named deputy director, systems user support and operations support, she was manager, systems user support. She held various positions throughout the company prior to her promotion.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.65 - 0.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 56.91 + 2.367%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.04 + 3.75%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.38 + 2.15%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ship received a repreive from the ship breakers to star in the 1976 re-make of the movie "Voyage of the Damned". Hint: for her role as the St. Louis she was fitted with twin dummy funnels.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What ocean liner is shown in the background of the opening scene of the movie West Side Story?

Answer - The ss United States was shown in the background of West Side Story..
courtesy of dip156@yahoo.com

Cruise News - July 30, 2014

Carnival Corporation Reports Higher Second Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $80 million, or $0.10 diluted EPS for the second quarter of 2014 compared to non-GAAP net income for the second quarter of 2013 of $57 million, or $0.07 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income, which included a net gain on vessel transactions of $15 million and net unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $11 million, was $106 million, or $0.14 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2013, U.S. GAAP net income, which included a gain on a ship sale of $15 million and unrealized losses on fuel derivatives of $31 million, was $41 million, or $0.05 diluted EPS. Revenues for the second quarter of 2014 were $3.6 billion, compared with $3.5 billion the prior year.

Carnival Corporation Reports Higher Second Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald noted that second quarter earnings were significantly better than anticipated in the company's March guidance due to better than expected net revenue yields for most of the company's cruise brands, as well as lower than expected net cruise costs.

Donald noted, "We benefited from effective marketing initiatives, which combined with a gradually improving economic environment, led to revenue yield improvement for our continental European brands in the quarter compared to the prior year and is expected to continue through the remainder of the year. In addition, we achieved a six percent improvement in fuel consumption."

Donald also noted that during the second quarter Princess Cruises' new Regal Princess debuted in Europe, boasting a wide variety of stunning features including The SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending beyond the edge of the vessel, 128 feet above the sea. Additionally, Princess launched its first homeport cruise program from China in May with the start of a four-month series of voyages from Shanghai on Sapphire Princess. Also in May, Costa Cruises announced that it will position Costa Serena in China next year, bringing the company's total to four ships based in the world's fastest growing cruise market. The company believes it is the largest provider of cruise vacations home-ported in China.

Key metrics for the second quarter 2014 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") decreased 2.2 percent for 2Q 2014, which was better than the company's guidance of down 3 to 4 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.5 percent in current dollars. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 1.2 percent in constant dollars, primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, as well as advertising and promotion expenses. Costs were better than March guidance, up 2.5 to 3.5 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 0.9 percent.

• Fuel prices declined 3.7 percent to $657 per metric ton for 2Q 2014 from $683 per metric ton in 2Q 2013 but were higher than March guidance of $649 per metric ton.

• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 6 percent in 2Q 2014 compared to the prior year.

2014 Outlook

Since March, fleetwide booking volumes for the next three quarters are running slightly behind last year at higher prices. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2014 are slightly ahead of the prior year at higher prices.

Donald noted, "Collectively our brands are gaining momentum in our efforts to drive higher ticket prices and we continue to expect sequential improvement in revenue yields, despite a more competitive environment in the Caribbean this summer. We remain focused on further understanding our guests and refining the exceptional customer experience we provide. We have also made significant strides in our efforts to identify opportunities for cross-brand operational efficiencies. This work is still in the early stages, but we are making progress and beginning to see encouraging signs. We believe we have reached a positive inflection point for our company as we return to earnings growth in 2014 and work hard to ensure that growth accelerates in the years to come."

Total revenues are expected to be higher for the full year 2014 compared to the prior year. The company continues to expect full year 2014 net revenue yields on a constant dollar basis to be down slightly compared to the prior year (flat to up slightly on a current dollar basis). The company now expects full year 2014 net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD to be flat to up slightly compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is better than had been anticipated in the March guidance. However, changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates have reduced full year 2014 forecasted earnings by $0.06 per share compared to March guidance.

Taking the above factors into consideration, the company has increased its full year 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share guidance to be in the range of $1.60 to $1.75, compared to 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.58 per share.

Third Quarter 2014 Outlook

Third quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be flat to down 1 percent compared to the prior year due primarily to a significant industry capacity increase in the Caribbean. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the third quarter are expected to be 1 to 2 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year.

Meyer Werft Set To Acquire Turku Shipyard
According to a statement released by Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the German shipyard Meyer Werft is currently in negotiations with the Finnish government to acquire STX Finland Oy, which includes the Turku ship building facility.

Meyer Werft Set To Acquire Turku ShipyardThe Turku shipyard specializes in building cruise ships but has struggled to attract new business over the past several years. Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas were designed and built at the Turku Shipyard in 2009 and 2010. In 2012, the shipyard lost a $1.4bn order For a third Oasis-class ship following the Finnish government's decision to not provide a loan to finance an order,

According to the Ministry, the consortium has now reached meaningful progress on the main terms of the transaction. However, there are a still a number of open issues that need to be solved, including a number of discussions and agreements to be concluded with other stakeholders.

In the statement, Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori and Managing Director Jan Meyer, said "If we all work on it and create favorable conditions for the yard, we see a positive long term future for the Turku yard and the whole maritime cluster in the region, which the yard has a symbiotic relationship with. The negotiations are continuing intensively and we are confident that we can make necessary progress within a short period."

It is expected that an announcement could be made by the end of this week.

Royal Caribbean Launches YouTube Series Targeting Teens/Tweems
Royal Caribbean International and AwesomenessTV, a leading multi-platform media company serving the global teen audience and one of the most subscribed to teen destinations on YouTube, today announced the launch of two new YouTube series for teens and tweens hosted by some of AwesomenessTV's biggest teen influencers. YoMuscleBoii's Royal Caribbean Adventure, a four-episode travel show hosted by YoMuscleBoii Josh Levya premieres today, giving teens an inside look at a Royal Caribbean vacation. Shipping Julia, a six-episode scripted series inspired by Romeo and Juliet, starring top YouTubers Meghan Rosette, Oli White and Arden Rose, will premiere July 27. Both series will be featured on AwesomenessTV and supported by online advertising on the AwesomenessTV channel, across the multi-channel network and via its social media channels. Royal Caribbean has made an initial commitment for two seasons of each series.

Royal Caribbean Launches YouTube Series Targeting Teens/Tweems "As a family brand, teens are hugely important to us, and we realize they have significant influence when it comes to deciding where to go on vacation," said Carol Schuster, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "As a leader in innovation, there are so many WOW experiences and destinations only found on Royal Caribbean that are yet to be discovered by teens, and we're thrilled to be working with AwesomenessTV to share those moments with this influential audience."

"AwesomenessTV is the go-to teen destination for fun and entertaining content anytime, anywhere," said Beth Greve, Chief Revenue and Partnerships Officer, AwesomenessTV. "We have a truly engaged audience that not only watches AwesomenessTV content, but also comments, likes and shares these videos with their friends. This is a terrific partnership in which AwesomenessTV and Royal Caribbean are introducing a new audience to all the amazing experiences one can have on a Royal Caribbean vacation."

In YoMuscleBoii's Royal Caribbean Adventure, YouTube creator Josh Levya invites teens aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas for the trip of a lifetime. While sailing the world's largest cruise ship, Leyva takes on the cruise line's signature FlowRider surf simulator and iconic rock wall, and ventures into ports of call, including Royal Caribbean's private beach destination of Labadee, Haiti, where he conquers the world's longest zip line over water. Viewers will also see Leyva exploring Green Grotto Caves and Dunns River Falls in Falmouth, Jamaica, swimming with dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico and more.

Shipping Julia, a six-episode scripted series inspired by Romeo and Juliet, also shot on Allure of the Seas and starring Meghan Rosette, Oli White and Arden Rose as Julia, James and Michelle, respectively, will premiere July 27. The series follows 17 year-old Julia (Rosette), who goes on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation with her family after a bad breakup. Determined to give up on boys forever, her plans change when she meets the charming and handsome James (White), a veteran cruiser with a reputation for woo-ing the girls. After their relationship gets off to a rocky start, they quickly realize what they thought was just a cruise fling, might be so much more. The series is written by Allison Schroeder (Mean Girls 2, 90210), who also wrote AwesomenessTV's hit scripted series Side Effects.

Four New Show Debut On Carnival Freedom
Four brand new production shows featuring cutting-edge technology that blends amazing live performances with towering LED screens showcasing spectacular staging and special effects recently debuted on Carnival Freedom as part of an extensive multi-million-dollar makeover.

Four New Revues Debut On Carnival FreedomThe latest in the line's high-tech Playlist Productions revues, the four new shows – 80s Pop to the Max, Heart of Soul, Getaway Island, and 88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show – complement an array of innovative new dining, bar and entertainment experiences that are part of the groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative. Including the new shows introduced on Carnival Freedom, the company's entertainment team has created 10 captivating Playlist Production shows which are presented throughout the "Fun Ship" fleet.

Carnival Freedom's new Playlist Productions shows include:

80s Pop to the Max – This high-energy show channels the era of day-glo, Spandex, and big hair with spirited performances of the hottest music video hits from the 1980s. From the pop-rock of Duran Duran and Cindy Lauper to the smooth soul of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and beyond, 80s Pop to the Max takes audiences back to days when "video killed the radio star."

Heart of Soul – This mesmerizing show tugs on the heart strings, capturing special romantic moments with recognizable R&B and soul hits from a host of legendary singers, from Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Al Green. In a unique twist, six lucky couples are chosen for a special night of romance with VIP seats, champagne and flowers.

Getaway Island – A high-tech re-creation of popular beach movies of the 1960s featuring stunning 3D special effects, Getaway Island invites guests to set their watches to "island time" as they experience the ultimate tropical island bash with music from Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, the Beach Boys and others. Getaway Island also features its own version of Carnival Freedom's new RedFrog Pub with a cocktail glass-spinning bartender and talented guitar soloist keeping audiences entertained. It's always 5 o' clock on Getaway Island!

88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show – Goodness, gracious great balls of fire! Highlighted by sing-along hits from Billy Joel, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and others – as well as an appearance from Carnival Freedom's own piano bar pianist — 88 Keys: The Rock n' Roll Piano Show spotlights these talented artists who have taken the term "tickling the ivories" to a whole new level.

Presented in Carnival Freedom's 1,400-seat Victoriana Show Lounge — which has been renovated to accommodate Playlist Productions' sophisticated technology — the new revues were created by Carnival's in-house entertainment team which has been expanded with three new members hired specifically to concept, develop and roll out these four new shows.

The company has also partnered with some of the most recognized talents in the entertainment industry, including Emmett Murphy, who has developed popular stage performances in Las Vegas, including Sin City at Planet Hollywood and The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage Hotel and Casino; Jennifer Savelli, whose experiences span the gamut from Broadway and Hollywood to Vegas and MTV; Bottom of Form and Marcos Santana whose extensive Broadway credits include serving as choreographer for Rock of Ages and dance captain for Guys and Dolls.

In addition to four spectacular Playlist Productions revues, Carnival Freedom's makeover includes Hasbro, The Game Show, the cruise industry's only live game show that features larger-than-life adaptations of the brand's iconic games.

Carnival Freedom's transformation also included Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the EA SPORTS Bar where patrons can catch the latest action and play popular video games; the BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican specialties, and the RedFrog Pub, an island-inspired watering hole offering a distinctive Key West meets British West Indies vibe.

Several new family-friendly features were also added, including a Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading venue, part of Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises featuring exciting youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss. Also new is Camp Ocean, an expansive new youth program that immerses children ages 2-11 in the wonders of the sea through more than 200 new engaging and educational experiences and activities.

The new features are available on the Carnival Freedom's five to eight-day Caribbean departures from Fort Lauderdale. Carnival Freedom will operate from Fort Lauderdale through February 2015 then reposition to Galveston, Texas, to sail year-round seven-day Caribbean departures.

Travel Agent Wins A Cruise A Year for Life On Holland America
As a travel agent, Linda Butler has sent dozens of customers on Holland America Line cruises. Now she will be sending herself on vacation — she will be taking a Holland America Line cruise every year for the rest of her life! The travel agent from Virginia won the "Cruise for Life" booking sweepstakes that ran in conjunction with the line's Above and Beyond promotional program. Butler works as a travel agent in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Travel Agent Wins A Cruise A Year for Life On Holland America As the grand-prize winner, Butler will receive a seven-day cruise for two in a verandah stateroom each year for life. She can choose to take her cruise in Alaska, Europe or the Caribbean on one of Holland America Line's 15 premium ships.

"Congratulations to Linda on behalf of everyone at Holland America Line," said Eva Jenner, vice president, North America field, charter and incentive sales. "It is gratifying to recognize the importance of our travel partners by awarding an advisor a lifetime of cruises, and we look forward to welcoming Linda onboard for many years to come."

Under the "Cruise for Life" sweepstakes, all travel sellers who made a deposited booking for a Holland America Line cruise that qualified for the Above and Beyond promotion were automatically entered into the sweepstakes. Butler was among 25,576 travel agents who were entered to win the unprecedented prize.

"Right now I'm still finding it hard to comprehend the enormity of this incredible prize, but I am very excited and already thinking about where I'll go first," said Butler. "I know that when I send my clients on a Holland America Line cruise they're going to come back with a lot of praise about their experience. Now I will have something in common with all my clients: We will all cruise Holland America Line for life."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.65 - 4.47%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.60 - 2.27%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.93 - 2.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.70 - 2.22%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What ocean liner is shown in the background of the opening scene of the movie West Side Story?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - The ship was Achille Lauro. Her previous name was Wilhelm Ruys.
courtesy of Roberto Lombardi, Genoa, Italy

Cruise News - June 23, 2014

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its first ship – the 930-passenger Viking Star – was "floated out," marking the latest major construction milestone, and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place on Monday, June 23, at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard outside Venice, Italy. With a total of three sister ships now under construction, Viking Star will be the first to debut in early 2015 with maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of First Ship"Today is a proud day for our entire Viking family, as we are one step closer to launching a new era of ocean cruising," Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said at the ceremony. "Viking Star's maiden season was sold out before she even touched water, which just demonstrates how enthusiastic our guests are for destination-focused ocean cruises. It is this enthusiasm that has led us to place orders for two additional sister ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky."

According to Italian shipbuilding tradition, a float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Star's float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, when a "madrina" – a woman of honor – cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Star afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

Viking developed its ocean cruises by leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises® passengers, and with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," and appeal to those with an interest in history, art and culture. In addition, Viking Inclusive Cruising provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," the 930-passenger all-veranda Viking Star – as well as its two sister ships under construction, Viking Sea and Viking Sky – is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled and intimate, the ship features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:

• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. veranda stateroom, all with private verandas, king-size beds, large showers, and LCD TVs.

• Explorer Suites: Viking Star features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wrap-around private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable dome permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a glass-backed infinity pool, cantilevered off the stern, allowing passengers to swim surrounded by their destination.

• The Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a "snow grotto" where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air.

• Explorers' Lounge and Wintergarden: Spaces designed to facilitate mingling and storytelling, the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow is the perfect spot for taking in scenery through double-height windows over a glass of aquavit or pint of local craft beer; and the

• Wintergarden is a serene environment in which to relax and enjoy afternoon tea service complete with a hand-selected teas.

• Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from The Restaurant and the World Cafe, serving a variety of global cuisines and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, Italian Grill and The Kitchen Table, all serving meals prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking's ocean ships offer more al fresco dining than any other ships.

• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting passengers to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking Cruises, and onboard venues include a dramatic three-deck atrium where passengers can enjoy musicians playing regional and classical music; the Star Theater, home of enrichment lectures from scholars and experts; an onboard cooking school where guests can learn local specialties; and the Viking Piano Lounge, where guests can relax, mingle, and exchange stories after a day of exploring.

• Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels, and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

HAL's 2015 Grand World Voyage Aboard ms Amsterdam Announced
When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents. Offering a refined and elegant "home away from home," Amsterdam guests will enjoy gracious service, superior amenities and many special Grand Voyage experiences.

HAL's 2015 Grand World Voyage Aboard ms Amsterdam AnnouncedFor guests who have less time on their hands, eight segments ranging in length from 22 to 57 days are available from departure ports along the route. Highlights of the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale journey include 11 overnight calls in some of the world's most exciting cities, transits of the Panama and Suez canals, crossing the equator and International Date Line, visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, evening theme balls, local entertainment and a host of other activities.

"A Grand World Voyage with Holland America Line is an experience of a lifetime with a unique way of showcasing each region both onboard and ashore," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "For any destination collector, a journey around the world is the pinnacle in travel, and this cruise truly is the grandest of the Grand Voyages."

Following Amsterdam's departure from Fort Lauderdale, the ship will take a westerly course from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via a daylight transit of the Panama Canal. Once the ship reaches the South Pacific, guests will enjoy an overnight call at Papeete, French Polynesia. Amsterdam will explore six Polynesian islands before heading to New Zealand for an overnight call at Auckland.

Amsterdam then sails west along the southern coast of Australia after an overnight call at Sydney. Extra time in one of the most popular ports on the journey allows for an evening at the famed Sydney Opera House, the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or an overland tour to Ayers Rock. Guests also will have extra time Down Under with overnights at Adelaide and Perth (Fremantle). The Australia exploration is enhanced with additional calls at Melbourne, Albany and Geraldton.

The ship makes its way to Asia with an overnight call at Bali, Indonesia, before touching the island of Java. Blending Asian traditions with a western cityscape, Singapore is the next overnight call, as well as the departure point for an overland tour to Cambodia and Angkor Wat, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

Amsterdam continues its northwesterly course with calls at Malaysia and Thailand before an overnight call at Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar. The ship visits Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Cochin, India, before overnight calls at Mumbai (Bombay), India, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. From Mumbai, guests can go overland to visit the Taj Mahal.

Following calls in Oman, Egypt and Jordan, Amsterdam transits the Suez Canal on its way to the Mediterranean. Guests explore 13 ports in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, including an overnight call at Piraeus (Athens), Greece, before a leisurely Atlantic crossing and return to Fort Lauderdale.

Sailing on Holland America Line's Grand World Voyage is a cruise experience unlike any other. Onboard amenities are elevated to the highest level. With nearly one crewmember for every two guests, the finest service is always nearby. A different dining experience is offered every day, with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of food and fine wines from around the world.

Through the line's "On Location" enrichment program, local traditions and culinary and cultural experiences come to life both onboard and ashore to deepen guests' appreciation of the destinations. During the Grand World Voyage, that might mean illuminating speakers, special guest headliners, galas and local cultural and folkloric shows such as enjoying a didgeridoo player on deck while in Australia or belly dancing lessons in the Mediterranean

Royal Caribbean Opens New Office In Hong Kong
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that it is expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific region and establishing an office in Hong Kong, augmenting the cruise company's already established Chinese offices in Beijing and Shanghai. On this occasion, the cruise company also unveiled the summer 2015 cruise season for Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, which will homeport in ‘Asia's World City.'

Royal Caribbean Opens New Office In Hong Kong"As a global industry leader, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is committed to pursuing the exciting strategic opportunity that Asia in general and China in particular represent," said Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Operating Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "As a testament to our commitment and confidence in Hong Kong and the surrounding region, Voyager of the Seas, one of our flagship vessels, will offer sailings into and out of Hong Kong starting in the summer of 2015. To support our expansion, we have now established a fully staffed office in Hong Kong, building on our 20 years of success in the market."

On June 26, Voyager of the Seas will sail a six-night itinerary from Beijing (Tianjin) to its new homeport of Hong Kong, where the ship will offer 22 sailings through October 2015 for international vacationers to enjoy a three- to 10-night cruise aboard one of the world's largest and most innovative cruise ships. Guests can choose sailings that visit Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as destinations in China.

Dr. Zinan Liu, Regional Vice President of Asia and Managing Director of China for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, "Hong Kong has immense potential as a homeport for Chinese vacationers to board a Royal Caribbean cruise that helps make memories that will last a lifetime. To ensure that we truly dazzle Hong Kong vacationers, who are sophisticated and trend-setting travelers, Voyager of the Seas will undergo an extensive bow-to-stern revitalization before she arrives in Hong Kong next summer."

As part of its plan, Royal Caribbean also will partner with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and local travel organizations, with the aim of raising Hong Kong and the Asian-Pacific cruise industry to new levels. Mr. Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) said "We are excited that Royal Caribbean has decided to make Hong Kong one of its key homeports in the Asia Pacific, which is a vote of confidence in our city's potential for the global cruise industry. Strategically located in Asia and with a host of experiences to offer, Hong Kong is a popular port among cruise travelers from not just Asia but around the world. In recent years, especially after the opening of the international-caliber Kai Tak Cruise Terminal last year, the HKTB has intensified promotion of Hong Kong's appeal as a cruise destination through dedicated campaigns."

Holland America Line Returns to Bermuda in Summer 2015
Holland America Line is returning to the pink sands and pastel-colored skyline of Bermuda on seven-day cruises aboard ms Veendam. Sailing roundtrip from Boston, Mass., six departures will sail in May, June and July, and feature three days and nights at Hamilton, the country's capital known for its gorgeous beaches and abundance of golf courses.

Holland America Line Returns to Bermuda in Summer 2015Carrying just 1,350 guests, Veendam offers an ideal mid-size ship experience in Bermuda that enables the vessel to dock at Hamilton in the center of town. The seven-day voyages spend a day at sea after departing Boston and arrive at Hamilton mid-day with enough time for guests to go ashore and enjoy the town. The ship then spends three nights alongside, where guests can experience local nightlife and dine ashore, if desired. Veendam departs Bermuda in the afternoon of the final day in Hamilton, with a day at sea before arriving back at Boston.

"We know our guests will be excited to see us cruise again to Bermuda in 2015," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest relations. "By extending the call to three nights, guests can have extensive time to experience the island while still enjoying the award-wining service and amenities that Holland America Line is known for."

With three days in port, guests will have multiple opportunities to experience Hamilton's British charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive 19th-century neo-Gothic cathedral, and the Georgian-style Sessions House built in 1815.

The seven-day Bermuda itinerary can be combined with a seven-day Canada/New England cruise to create a 14-day Bermuda & Canada/New England Collectors' Voyage. The full Collectors' cruise calls at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston; and Hamilton, with scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Bermuda cruise also can be combined with a 17-day Panama Canal transit to create a 24-day Panama Canal and Bermuda Collectors' Voyage. The ship departs San Diego, Calif., April 15, and calls at ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia, as well as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Boston and Hamilton, including a full transit of the Panama Canal.

Veendam offers an onboard experience defined by spacious comfort and the latest features and amenities. Guests aboard the ship will not only enjoy elegant dining rooms, a $2 million art and antique collection, wide teak decks and spacious staterooms — many with private verandahs — but also new and exciting venues and along with the latest culinary and entertainment enhancements.

Mom, Can I Go Down the Slide Just One More Time?
Mom, Can I Go Down the Slide Just One More Time?This stunning shot of a young cruiser sliding down Carnival Freedom's 207-foot-long water slide while the ship departs St. Thomas was taken by professional photographer Andy Newman who is sailing this week to capture images of the many new on-board innovations added during a recent dry dock.

The exciting new spaces include the first-ever Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading venue – part Carnival's exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises – as well as Camp Ocean, a marine-themed play area that's home to more than 200 new ocean-inspired activities.

A variety of Fun Ship 2.0 experiences – from Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri and new poolside bars RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Cantina to four spectacular Playlist Productions revues – were added, as well.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.41 + 2.58%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 56.89 + 5.98%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 - 3.23%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.42 + 1.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - The ship was Achille Lauro. Her previous name was Wilhelm Ruys.
courtesy of Roberto Lombardi, Genoa, Italy

Cruise News - June 16, 2014

SS United States Gets Temporary Reprieve With $120,000 Donation
With the SS United States' historic five-bladed propellers just days away from being scrapped, cruise industry executive Jim Pollin has donated $120,000 to the SS United States Conservancy to save the propeller and support a national campaign to re-purpose America's Flagship. The donation, as well as a pledge to match an additional $100,000 in other contributions for the ship's upkeep, was announced this morning in front of the once Top Secret 60,000-pound propeller on board the SS United States.

SS United States Gets Temporary Reprieve With $120,000 DonationHanding over a big check to Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs in front of the 18-foot-wide bronze propeller on the ship's stern, Pollin stressed the SS United States' historic importance and urged others to contribute. "This great ship represents the best of American ingenuity. She's as iconic a symbol as the Washington Monument or Empire State Building, and she must not be destroyed on our watch," he said. "I've stepped up to help, and I hope that my contribution will help generate additional donations and build major momentum for the day when we can finally say we've saved the United States."

Pollin, the son of the late Abe Pollin, former owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics professional sports franchises, and women's health expert, Irene Pollin, answered the Conservancy's national call for a buyer to save the propeller and help prevent the ship's destruction. Jim's passion for ships and the sea was sparked in 1991, when he traveled from New York to Los Angeles aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. He left a long career in the airline industry to found The Pollin Group, a cruise management company that today serves a wide range of corporate, educational, and other group accounts.

The SS United States, still the transatlantic speed record-holder and icon of mid-twentieth century American engineering, could be sold to a scrapper by summer's end unless additional funds are raised to pay her formidable carrying costs in tandem with an investment deal to re-purpose the ship into a mixed-use destination.

"We hope Jim's contribution will serve as an inspiration to others during this critical time. In so many ways, we've never been closer to ensuring that this great symbol of American innovation and our nation's can-do spirit is saved for future generations," stated Gibbs, whose grandfather William Francis Gibbs designed the vessel. "Jim's generosity will help ensure that this propeller will remain aboard the ship, where it belongs. Now, we must save the rest of the vessel." Four other propellers from the ship are on display in museums in New York and Virginia.

The redeveloped United States would serve as a museum and provide more than 500,000 square feet of space for retail, restaurants, hospitality, open space, cultural and educational opportunities. The Conservancy has been advancing discussions in recent months with a number of real estate developers in New York and has identified several viable locations for the ship in her former home port.

"Our team continues to have encouraging discussions with developers in the New York area, and we've advanced plans for a dynamic shipboard SS United States Center for Design and Discovery," said Gibbs. "However, this good news comes as we are issuing our final SOS for America's Flagship. Without additional support from public officials and private donors, we're only months away from the unthinkable," said Gibbs.

"Destroying our nation's flagship would send the wrong message at home and abroad about how our country views its historical accomplishments, our present-day challenges, and our dreams for the future."

Royal Caribbean Claims Quantum of the Seas Entertainment Will Be Groundbreaking
Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, is poised to make a show-stopping debut in November 2014, with a lineup of entertainment offerings that push the envelope far beyond imagination. From stage shows that take guests on a highly visual and experiential journey of music, sound and performance, to a radically new form of multidimensional entertainment that seamlessly fuses technology with highly trained live performers, stunning visuals and special effects, Quantum of the Seas delivers an array of first of their kind productions and performances that will leave audiences spellbound.

Royal Caribbean Claims Quantum of the Seas Entertainment Will Be Groundbreaking"The level of ingenuity, creativity and sheer imagination that has gone into the creation of the entertainment onboard Quantum of the Seas is staggering," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "We are taking a quantum leap in all aspects of ship design and programming with the Quantum class, but the entertainment is especially remarkable. These shows and productions are truly one-of-a-kind, and we are confident that our guests will be WOWed."

The Intersection of Entertainment and Technology

Already one of the most anticipated spaces onboard Quantum of the Seas, Two70° is the stage for a futuristic approach to entertainment that pairs the most advanced technology with brilliant dancers, singers, aerialists and musicians to deliver a powerful lineup of shows and events that have never before been seen on land, let alone at sea.

At the forefront of Two70° is Vistarama, an awe-inspiring innovation engineered especially for Quantum class. Vistarama transforms its expansive floor-to-ceiling windows into any scene, real or imagined, by combining 18 projectors to create an ambient surface over 100 feet wide and over 20 feet tall. Across this expanse, impromptu digital shows come to life in stunning 12K resolution, a pixel-perfect industry first. In addition, Two70°'s troupe of six agile Roboscreens stage surprise performances throughout every cruise. Each measuring over seven feet high and controlled by powerful robotic arms, the Roboscreens are delightfully nimble, as they create scenes while soaring and twisting solo, or uniting as one. The creative possibilities of Vistarama and Roboscreens are brought to life through the beautiful, imaginative and original digital content created exclusively for Royal Caribbean by Moment Factory, the internationally renowned multimedia studio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

"The entertainment in Two70° is simply magical," said Nick Weir, Vice President, Entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. "There is an incredible team of risk takers and dreamers here at Royal Caribbean. Together, we saw the magnitude of what this room could do and shot for the stars. We've always brought the best of land to sea, but in Two70° we are creating something that has never been done anywhere else in the world."

The integration of Vistarama and Roboscreens, with highly trained live performers, music and special effects, provides an endless landscape for Royal Caribbean to create stunningly visual, first-of-their-kind shows that can only be seen on Quantum of the Seas. Main shows include:

• Starwater – created by Moment Factory, this original Royal Caribbean production is a highly visual, theatrical spectacle of video mapping, special effects and human artistry that combine to create an awe-inspiring experience designed to appeal to universal human emotions

• Virtual Concert – a world-class concert experience featuring premier musicians, groups and bands that is masterfully captured and projected across Vistarama and all six Roboscreens to transport guests to a virtual experience as impressive as the real thing

Headlining a New Art Form

The main theater onboard Quantum of the Seas, the Royal Theater, is a spectacular, state-of-the-art space that takes advantage of the latest technology to create a performance venue that raises the bar once again. Seating 1,300 guests, the Royal Theater is home to Royal Caribbean's two main shows presented by Royal Caribbean Productions:

• Sonic Odyssey –an original Royal Caribbean Production, conceived and created by William Close, Under The Radar Chicago and Art House Live, is inspired by musician and innovator William Close and his variety of one-of-a-kind majestic instruments. This unbelievable production includes his signature Earth Harp, a unique Drum Wall consisting of 136 drums, a Vocal Percussion Jacket, Violin Dress and more. Sonic Odyssey is an original, theatrical masterpiece that weaves together a nine-piece live orchestra with a cast of singers, dancers, aerialists and gymnasts to envelop the audience in a spectacular show that must be seen and heard to be believed.

Broadway at Sea

Continuing to expand on Royal Caribbean's commitment to offering award-winning Broadway productions at sea, the Royal Theaters also will host the full theatrical version of the smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! Guests will delight in this sunny, funny tale of love, laughter and friendship, all set to the timeless songs of ABBA – including "Dancing Queen," "The Winner Takes It All," "Money, Money, Money" and "Take a Chance on Me."

Live Music at Its Best

Designed specifically with the music lover in mind, Music Hall is the hottest live music venue onboard Quantum of the Seas and the ultimate place for guests to enjoy intimate and exclusive access to live performances. Music Hall comes alive at night as the heart of the ship's entertainment, featuring bands, musicians, DJs, theme night parties and more, including:

• MAMMA MIA! After Party – when MAMMA MIA! ends in the Royal Theater, the party is just beginning in Music Hall, where guests can dance the night away during a red carpet, Broadway-style after party with featured cast members from the show

• Tribute Band Program – an extensive line-up of incredibly talented live musical acts pay homage to timeless entertainers from every era, from The Beatles and Bee Gees, to Journey and Bon Jovi

• Wink – a premium late-night show with class and sass, featuring the Royal Theater cast in an adults-only showcase

With a variety of productions, events and parties to experience throughout a sailing onboard Quantum of the Seas, guests are encouraged to reserve the shows they wish to attend prior to their cruise through Royal Caribbean's all-new Cruise Planner. All shows are complimentary and included in the cost of a guest's cruise fare.

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and sister-ship Anthem of the Seas (debuting in Southampton, U.K. in April 2015), will introduce a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line's largest and most advanced staterooms ever. Guests also will enjoy the new Quantum-class Dynamic Dining, a completely new culinary experience that offers a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world's most cosmopolitan cities, including specialty restaurants created with partner-chefs Jamie Oliver, Devin Alexander and Michael Schwartz.

Celebrity Announces New Destination Adventures In The Galapagos Islands
Explorers can enjoy new vacation experiences when sailing to the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises. The modern luxury brand, celebrating its 10-year anniversary in the unspoiled region, has launched immersive and inspiring land excursions that range from dining on authentic cuisine prepared by local residents to contributing to the protected islands by giving new life to a native tree species.

Celebrity Announces New Destination Adventures In The Galapagos IslandsBuilding on 10 years of involvement in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity continues its commitment to supporting and empowering the communities of the region with a medical clinic, fishing and agriculture cooperatives, and a partnership with the Galapagos Conservancy, which includes a matching program to double the value of guests' donations. Now for vacationers, Celebrity has introduced more Galapagos experiences that include:

Authentic Dining in the Highlands – Dine on local fare at a family's farm nestled in the lush highlands of Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Arranged exclusively by Celebrity, the immersive cultural experience directly connects vacationers with residents of the local community and the beauty of the island, its farms and even the giant tortoises roaming in their natural habitat. Scalesia Reforestation Project – In close collaboration with the Galapagos National Park, in Santa Cruz, guests guided by Celebrity's naturalists now can join a reforestation project with the goal to plant 5,000 Scalesia trees – an endemic tree that has lost much of its habitat in the Galapagos, adversely impacting wildlife that call the forest home. The Scalesia-saving project is the first-ever of its kind conducted by a cruise line with the Galapagos National Park.

Collaborating with Farmers for Onboard Menus – The one-of-a-kind dining menu onboard Celebrity Xpedition reflects Celebrity's effort to preserve the natural conditions and support local growers and farmers in the Galapagos region. From Ecuadorian ceviche to roasted fish, soups and even desserts such as tres leches – a variety of the locally caught, sustainable fish and seafood, vegetables and fruits served onboard are fresh, organic and sourced from Galapagos fishermen and farmers.

Commemorative Book – Each modern explorer onboard Celebrity Xpedition between June 2014 and December 2015 will receive a complimentary coffee table book featuring fun, touching and inspiring stories and photos submitted via Facebook by past guests who have explored the islands with Celebrity Cruises, along with information on the Galapagos Islands environment and community. Vacationers whose stories were featured also will receive a copy of the exclusive book.

The new adventures are included when sailing onboard Celebrity Xpedition, in addition to the immersive Galapagos vacation itinerary that features daily naturalist-led lectures and excursions of the untouched islands, its highlands and beautiful beaches

Princess Cruises Celebrates First Birthday of Royal Princess
Princess Cruises is today celebrating the first birthday of Royal Princess, which was launched in Southampton, England during a spectacular christening by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

Princess Cruises Celebrates First Birthday of Royal PrincessGuests currently sailing aboard Royal Princess will be treated to some special festivities marking the occasion including a "Royal Ball Birthday Party" in the ship's showpiece atrium with a birthday sing-a-long, balloon drop and celebratory cake.

During the past 12 months Royal Princess has traveled 120,000 miles and carried 150,000 guests. The ship has set sail on 44 cruises, and visited 39 ports in 20 countries throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean. This summer the ship is cruising through the waters of Scandinavia and Russia, and Iceland and British Isles before repositioning to New York for its first Canada and New England season this fall.

"Today, we look back with great pride as we celebrate the first birthday of Royal Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "She's been a wonderful addition to our fleet and we're delighted that she's been so well received by our guests."

Called one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" by Cruise Critic, Royal Princess has already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, and its innovative SeaWalk® is being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA TODAY.

Tony Draper, Captain of Royal Princess, said," I can hardly believe one year has passed since our fantastic inauguration and christening by HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge. The ship's company has worked diligently throughout to deliver great service on board, ensuring all our guests have had a memorable, relaxing and rejuvenating time on their cruise."

The 3,600-passenger Royal Princess was the first of two new-generation ships for the line. Among the special features found on board is a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship offering a host of dining and entertainment options; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the Princess Live! television studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

Sister ship Regal Princess joined the fleet last month.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 38.42 - 5.25%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 53.68 - 6.02%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.10 + 1.97%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.90 - 5.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the cruise ship when she was overtaken by terrorists in 1985 and what was her original name?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Most people know that Cunard's Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth served as troopships during World War II. Which two cruise ships served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982?

Answer - The Canberra and the QE2 were used at the Falklands.
courtesy of James Tagliani

Cruise News - June 9, 2014

Thousands Celebrate Cunard's Queen Victoria's Liverpool Call
A spectacular and rare two-day call by Cunard's Queen Victoria at its 'spiritual home' of Liverpool had a rousing send-off with an estimated crowd of twenty thousand people lining the Mersey to see the ship sail.

Commodore Christopher Rynd exchanges salutes with Fly-boarder Jay St John Photo Credit: Jason RobertsQueen Victoria made the first overnight call at Liverpool by a Cunard ship in nearly 50 years over 30-31 May to celebrate the 100th year to the day of the maiden voyage of Aquitania, acclaimed as the most striking four-funnelled liner ever constructed and known as the 'Ship Beautiful', which sailed from the very same Liverpool berth on 30 May 1914.

Queen Victoria's two day stay began in dramatic fashion with fly-board champion Jay St John zooming 50 feet up in the air, propelled by two water jets attached to his feet, to exchange salutes with the Cunard Commodore at the ship's bow. The fly-boarder also entertained disembarking passengers and the crowds of people along the dockside who had come to see the ship arrive.

A full day of visits and special events on board the ship to mark the Aquitania anniversary culminated with a dazzling fireworks display against the backdrop of the city's Three Graces, the Royal Liver Building, the Port of Liverpool Building and the Cunard Building, where the company had its headquarters for over 50 years until 1967 and which was especially illuminated for the evening, which together form a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Celebrations continued on 31 May, the second and very sunny day of the call, and huge crowds began gathering along the waterfront as Queen Victoria prepared to take her leave. A stunning quayside performance by local opera singer Danielle Thomas brought the visit to an emotional climax as the ship sailed at 4pm to waves and cheers from the twenty-thousand-strong crowd.

Cunard will mark its 175th anniversary in 2015 and all three Cunard Queens will sail together on the Mersey for the first ever time on 25 May 2015 as part of the company's year of celebration.

Commodore of the Cunard fleet and Master of Queen Victoria Christopher Rynd said:

"Having now had the privilege of bringing of all three ships of the current Cunard fleet into Liverpool I can say that the overnight visit and the send off given by the people of that great city to Queen Victoria was truly first class and will live long in the memory. I am looking forward to 2015 and our 175th anniversary celebrations when all three Cunard ships will gather on the Mersey. The fleet is coming!"

Norwegian Jewel Receives Enhancements as The Ship Readies for Houston Arrival
Norwegian Cruise Line announced that when Norwegian Jewel returned to service on May 17, 2014 following a two-week dry dock the ship featured numerous enhancements as she is readied for her much-anticipated arrival in Houston, Texas on October 11, 2014, following the summer season in Alaska.

Norwegian Jewel Receives Enhancements as The Ship Readies for Houston ArrivalNorwegian Jewel is the first ship to be retrofitted with the popular O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (first introduced on Norwegian Epic and also on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway). In addition, the ship's Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, was relocated to a more intimate setting on Deck 13 and the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, first introduced on Norwegian Getaway, was added adjacent to the new restaurant.

"O'Sheehan's Bar & Grill is a huge hit on three of our new ships, so we wanted to ensure that guests sailing on our existing fleet, beginning with Norwegian Jewel, could experience the welcoming atmosphere and the traditional pub fare," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Our guests are going to love the addition of both O'Sheehan's and the Sugarcane Mojito Bar which can only add to the already great dining and lounging opportunities onboard."

Guests can also enjoy delicious cannoli and cupcakes from Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's Cake Boss and Next Great Baker, that has been added in the Java Café. A number of additional guest area enhancements included: updates to the Casino and Photo Gallery, new carpets and flooring throughout guest areas, window replacements, upgrades in galley areas and updates to the pool deck. Norwegian's innovative digital signage, first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway, will also be added to the ship over the summer. The interactive touch screen signs will allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions simply with a scan of their stateroom key.

Technical modernizations also took place during the dry dock. The ship was outfitted with Green Tech Marine Scrubbers, in order to reduce fuel emissions, overall energy consumption, and the company's environmental footprint. In addition, the ship will receive an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade and state-of-the-art silicone paint on the hull, in order to further improve fuel efficiency. Norwegian Jewel will also benefit from the installation of shore power connectivity. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement.

Norwegian Jewel is currently sailing a series of seven-day Alaska cruises from Seattle through September 13, 2014. Ports of call on this adventurous itinerary include Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, Alaska as well as Victoria, British Columbia. Following the Alaska cruise season, Norwegian Jewel repositions to Houston and begins sailing a series of Western Caribbean cruises on October 11, 2014, with stops in Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Banana Coast, Honduras.

P&O Announces New Caribbean activity tours for 2014/2015
P&O Cruises has introduced new activity tours in the Caribbean for cruises departing in 2014 and 2015. From coral restoration projects for certified divers in Bonaire to Segway tours for all the family in St Lucia, there's something for everyone.

P&O Cruises new activities in the Caribbean, perfect for adventure seekers, are:

Coral restoration dive experience in Bonaire
This is a rare opportunity for certified divers 15 years and over to become a part of the Coral Restoration Foundation in Bonaire and give something back to the underwater world. The unique hands-on experience is a combination of classroom instruction and dives to two sites where divers assist the CRFB to conduct surveys, collect data and clean or remove predators that can damage the corals. A very worthy cause and extremely rewarding. Prices from £89 per person.

Segway, sights and beach tour in St Lucia Segway, sights and beach tour in St Lucia
A fun tour for all the family (children must be eight or over), this tour includes a training session at Rodney Bay, before gliding along the two mile nature trail to explore the historical wonders of Mount Primard. Guides will point out the flowers and butterflies, and talk about the battles between the English and French as well as stop for plenty of photo opportunities. Finish the tour at Pigeon Island to relax on the beach or snorkel. Prices from £56 per adult and £45 per child.

Helicopter flight in St Kitts
Feel like James Bond and take a 30 minute flight from Port Zante, sweeping along the rocky and black sand shoreline towards the lush rainforests and enjoy a view of the crater of Mount Liamuiga. As the helicopter swoops back down across the island, enjoy spectacular views of the Brimstone Hill Fortress, Romney Manor, the sister island of Nevis in the distance and a bird's eye view of the cruise ship before coming into land. Prices from £168 for an adult or child.

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: "There's so much more to the Caribbean than the usual clichés of palm fringed beaches, turquoise blue waters, stunning sunsets and rum cocktails. These islands actually offer a hotbed of activity and our new tours are perfect for those which want to ditch the sunbed and don the trainers to experience something totally different. You can simply enjoy the rum cocktail afterwards!"

Crystal Cruises Reveals 2016-Early 2017 Itineraries
Crystal Cruises has unveiled its 2016 and early 2017 itineraries, besting several of its own records: more maiden calls (41), more overnights (119, 40 of them "double" overnights), more shorter (five- to 10-day) cruises, and an earliest-ever itinerary announcement – with fares available and open for booking -- for the ultra-luxe line. Highlights for the luxury cruises include returns to Alaska, New Orleans, and the Philippines; expanded West Coast, Central American, and Caribbean; choices; three trips through Antarctica; inclusive land programs in Berlin and Montreal; a pan-Pacific Grand Cruise; and two completely different World Cruises (in 2016 and 17). In total, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will sail 74 five- to 102-day voyages around the world over the approximately 15-month period.

Crystal Cruises Reveals 2016-Early 2017 Itineraries2016

Year Overview:

• 60 cruises, 77 countries, 86 overnights in 48 ports, and 245 ports around the world

• Almost half of the year's itineraries (29) are 10 days or less, including one five-day and two six-day cruises for the first time ever, along the Pacific Coast.

• New overnights ports, such as Antwerp, Ibiza, Papeete, Bora Bora, Berlin/Hamburg, Bali, Punta del Este, Colon, Ushuaia, and Haifa.

• A record number of double overnight (two nights in a row) ports (14), including San Diego, Amsterdam, New Orleans, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Venice, London, Lisbon, Barcelona, Sydney, and Melbourne.

• 27 Maiden Calls include Aitutaki, Cook Islands; Arendal, Norway; Bandol, France; Catalina Island, California; Corinto, Nicaragua; Crotone, Italy; Easo, New Caledonia; Fukuoaka, Japan; Gaspe, PQ; Hoonah, Alaska; Isla Margarita, Venezuela; Karlskrona, Sweden; Kavala, Greece; Kirkwall, UK; Klaksvik, Faroe Islands; Korsakov, Russia; Mystery Island, Vanuatu; Nanaimo and Prince Rupert, BC; Port Canaveral, Florida; Portree, Isle of Skye, UK; Port d' Alcudia, Majorca/Balearic Islands, Spain; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Sibenik, Croatia; Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe, French West Indies; Samana, Dominican Republic; and Virgin Gorda, BVI.

• Returns to less-visited destinations: Argostoli, Kefalonia Island, Greece; Chania/Souda, Crete, Greece; Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles; Gdansk, Poland; La Rochelle/La Pallice, France; Mariehamn, Finland; Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Nuku'Alofa, Tonga; Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands; Ponta Delgada,The Azores; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Rangiroa, French Polynesia; Sanary-sur-Mer, France; Tarragona, Spain; Sarandë, Albania; Waitangi, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Itinerary Highlights:

• A 102-day World Cruise sailing round-trip from San Francisco for the first time, with five segments beginning in Sydney, Bali, Singapore, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

• The line's first summer Alaska season in five years, only this season with shorter seven and 10-day itineraries.

• Two new Northern Europe cruises to/from Berlin, with a complimentary three-night Berlin land package.

• Two January/February voyages cruising Antarctica and South America, including a new route round-trip from Buenos Aires.

• Eight five- to 22-day cruises to or from California in the winter, spring, and fall including:

• New Hawaiian islands itinerary round-trip from San Francisco.

• New San Diego round-trip, visiting Catalina Island for the first-time ever.

• Two new Panama Canal cruises: from Chile to Miami and Miami to San Francisco.

• New Caribbean & Central America cruises:

• A return to New Orleans after a decade-long absence, with three voyages (one round-trip)

• Two voyages to/from Colon, Panama

• Sailings featuring rarely-visited islands like Jamaica and Bonaire, plus luxurious favorites such as Turks & Caicos, St. Barts, and Virgin Gorda for the first time.

• Expanded explorations of Central America in both years, with visits to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and more Mexico again.

• A New England-Canada season with a local overnight on land in Montreal, plus seven, eight, nine-, and 10-day voyage options, including a round-trip from New York.

• 10 seven-, nine-, and 12-day Mediterranean cruises in spring and fall, featuring a return to Israel and to Athens as a "turnaround" port.

• Five voyages to or from Asia, with multiple ports in South Korea back on the calendar,

• A return to Sydney for its world-famous New Year's fireworks display on an Auckland-Melbourne holiday cruise, with a second holiday voyage round-trip from Miami.

2017 (1st Quarter) Summary:

• 94-day "Ultimate South America" World Cruise round-trip from Miami starting January 10, comprised of six segments sailing on Crystal Serenity through Antarctica, the Amazon, and to/from Colon, Valparaiso, Buenos Aires, Rio, and Barbados.

• 99-day pan-Pacific Grand Cruise aboard Crystal Symphony, starting January 5, and comprised of seven segments sailing to/from Melbourne, Sydney (round-trip), Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Incheon, and Tokyo, and featuring several new and rarely visited Polynesian ports and Crystal's first return to the Philippines in 18 years.

• 14 Maiden Calls: Alotau and Kiriwina, Papua New Guinea; Boracay and Romblon Islands, Philippines; Iquique and Castro, Chiloe Island, Iquique, Chile; Isle of Pines, New CaledoniaMatarani, Peru; Champagne Bay, Vanuatu; Portobelo, Panama; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; Stewart Island, New Zealand; Takamatsu, Japan; and Trujillo, Peru.

• Ports less visited: Antofagasta, Chile; Guadalcanal, Honiara, Solomon Islands; Port Vila, Vanuatu; Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; and Yasawa-I-Rara, Fiji

Princess Cruises Debuts 2015-2016 Exotics Sailings
Princess Cruises has debuted its 2015-2016 Exotics program which will take guests to a myriad of fascinating destinations that span the globe.

The diverse deployment includes more than 40 unique itineraries to 140 destinations in 70 countries on six continents. Guests will be able to book cruises to Tahiti and the South Pacific, South America, Australia/New Zealand, Asia and Africa. In addition, cruisers will experience less-traveled ports- available on the line's small ships, or circle the globe on a 111-day World Cruise sailing roundtrip from North America.

Among the highlights of next season's offerings are the lines' largest ever deployment of cruises in Australia as Golden Princess becomes one of five ships to sail from the areaAmong the highlights of next season's offerings are the lines' largest ever deployment of cruises in Australia as Golden Princess becomes one of five ships to sail from the area - more ships than ever before for Princess; the line's first Perth-based deployment during the Australian summer; longer cruises to Africa, Asia and the South Pacific; and sailings roundtrip from Singapore on Sapphire Princess.

"Our award-winning itineraries offer our guests the chance to travel the globe and enrich their lives by being introduced to the worlds' cultures and peoples," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. Our upcoming 2015-16 Exotics program underscores our position as a destination leader in the cruise industry."

Princess' 2015-16 Exotics cruise program includes:

Asia & Africa Cruises

Sapphire Princess will offer a robust season of departures from Singapore to both ancient locales and bustling cities - sailing not only roundtrip from the port of Singapore but to Hong Kong or Beijing as well. In addition, Sapphire Princess will continue offering the line's most popular Asia cruise- the 17-day Grand Asia itinerary, while small ship Ocean Princess will sail on a 36-day West Africa Adventure from London (Dover) to Cape Town, followed by a 35-day voyage ending in Rome, or a combined 71-day Grand Adventure cruise to a number of exciting destinations around Africa, home to a variety of vibrant cultures and fascinating wildlife.

Australia & New Zealand Cruises

An unprecedented five ships will be deployed to four homeports in Australia this season, offering the widest variety of itineraries ever. Golden Princess will debut for the first time in Australia sailing during summer "Down Under" from Melbourne on five different itineraries visiting New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Tasmania.

Sydney will be home to both Diamond Princess and Dawn Princess. Diamond Princess will offer voyages to an of assortment destinations, including a 33-day full circumnavigation of Australia, and two special sailings between Sydney and Auckland. Dawn Princess will offer two-week cruises throughout the season to New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.

Sun Princess will sail year-round, remaining in Sydney winter through June 2015 for a mix of cruises, and for the first time ever, will homeport in Perth (Fremantle) for the Australian summer offering both shorter and longer cruises – including a 46-day voyage to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. Sea Princess will return to Brisbane for the Australian summer season sailing seven-, 10- and 11-day voyages to New Zealand and islands in the South Pacific including Papua New Guinea.

South America Cruises

Star Princess sails to the Southern Hemisphere sailing between Santiago (Valparaiso) and either Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires on itineraries sailing the southernmost tip of South America and the Chilean Fjords. In addition, Star Princess will sail between two continents and cross the Equator on two departures of Andes and South American cruises featuring Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and and optional overland tour of Machu Picchu.

Pacific Princess will return to Tahiti's clear blue waters and offer 10-day voyages sailing from PapeeteThe start of 2016 will see Ocean Princess sail on her first-ever full circumnavigation of South America, sailing roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale. This 64-day Grand South America voyage will offer guests the opportunity to visit Antarctica on an optional overflight tour from Punta Arenas.

Tahiti & Polynesia Cruises

Pacific Princess will return to Tahiti's clear blue waters and offer 10-day voyages sailing from Papeete throughout the fall to explore this beautiful destination. Each departure includes two full days in Bora Bora. Adding variety to the 10-day program, Pacific Princess will include one departure of a 10-day Marquesas & Polynesia itinerary featuring the remote island of Nuku Hiva.

World Cruise

Princess' World Cruise will once again depart from and return to North America. The 111-day voyage on Pacific Princess will sail roundtrip from Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale visiting 35 destinations, 26 countries and includes overnight stays in Hong Kong, Dubai and Venice, as well as maiden calls to Chania, Crete and Bari, Italy.

Royal Caribbean Names Kristin Chenoweth Quantum Experience Advisor
Royal Caribbean International is pulling out all the stops when it comes to the entertainment offerings for its newest ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, with a keen eye on pushing boundaries and introducing brand new innovations that have never before been seen on land or sea. With such a strong emphasis on entertainment, the cruise line has partnered with some of the most creative and talented minds in the industry to lend their expertise, including Quantum of the Seas' godmother, Kristin Chenoweth, who has been named Quantum Experience Advisor for Entertainment.

Royal Caribbean Names Kristin Chenoweth Quantum Experience AdvisorChenoweth joins a lineup of Quantum Experience Advisors who are working with Royal Caribbean to ensure the amenities and activities onboard Quantum of the Seas are nothing short of amazing, including HGTV-star and interior designer Genevieve Gorder, athlete and adventurer Dhani Jones, and James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz.

A triple-threat, Emmy and Tony award-winning performer, Chenoweth brings an invaluable perspective to her role as Advisor for Entertainment. As Advisor, she's had the opportunity to participate in an executive review committee, previewing the concepts for all of the shows, productions, and themed events in development for Quantum of the Seas, and giving feedback on every aspect ranging from sets and music, to costumes, casting and more.

"Kristin is by far our most involved godmother yet and it is such a joy to be working with her," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "We are privileged to have a world renowned performer such as her, sharing insights and feedback on the entertainment that we are so passionate about. Seeing the excitement and energy she has for what we are doing with Quantum of the Seas is such a powerful reinforcement that we are creating something truly special."

"It has been such a wonderful experience to be the godmother for this incredible ship, and I am delighted to make my contribution as the Quantum Experience Advisor for Entertainment," said Chenoweth. "I have been blown away by what I've seen so far from the entertainment onboard Quantum of the Seas and am just so impressed, and that's not easy to do. This is the real deal, and audiences have a lot to look forward to."

Kristin Chenoweth, alongside Nick Weir, Royal Caribbean's Vice President, Entertainment, will be hosting a live Google Hangout on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 4p.m. (EDT), to reveal the lineup of entertainment offerings onboard Quantum of the Seas. Media and consumers alike are invited to preview the next evolution in Royal Caribbean's entertainment, and have the opportunity to submit questions to Kristin and Nick directly.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.55 + 1.32%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 57.12 + 3.44%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.04 + 1.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.68 - 0.65%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Most people know that Cunard's Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth served as troopships during World War II. Which two cruise ships served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Most people know that Cunard's Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth served as troopships during World War II. Which two cruise ships served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982?

Answer - The Canberra and the QE2 were used at the Falklands.
courtesy of James Tagliani

Cruise News - June 2, 2014

Cunard Adds Single Cabins During Queen Elizabeth Refit
Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth, completed her stay at the Blohm & Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany this week, for her first scheduled dry-docking since she entered service in 2010. As well as conducting standard checks and maintenance, this multi-million dollar refit added the ship's first-ever single accommodation options, along with enhanced stateroom and other amenities and improved restaurant facilities. In line with the company's environmental sustainability thinking, scrubber technology was also introduced on the ship.

"Queen Elizabeth is already a much loved ship and following this multi-million dollar refit, she is sure to shine brightly for years to come"

Cunard Adds Single Cabins During Queen Elizabeth RefitQueen Elizabeth left the shipyard on Saturday 1 June and sailed for Southampton, ahead of her 4 June cruise to Amsterdam.

"Queen Elizabeth is already a much loved ship and following this multi-million dollar refit, she is sure to shine brightly for years to come," said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line. "Whilst there has been investment across the ship, we are particularly delighted to announce that following this refit, there will be staterooms for single travellers on board a Cunard ship for the first time since QE2."

In response to passenger demand and changing demographics, a total of nine new single staterooms were created on Deck 2 midships by remodeling part of Queen Elizabeth's casino. Eight of the single staterooms will be a new grade of Ocean View accommodation, and the ninth will be a standard Inside.

In The Lido, the ship's informal restaurant, refurbishments will mean that waiters with insulated coffee and tea pots will in the future serve passengers with hot drinks at all meals, while recessed risers will improve the styling of the self-service area as well as passenger flows within it.

More generally, carpets were renewed and large flat-screen TVs – mostly 32" or above – were installed in all passenger staterooms.

Sun awnings were erected on the open area near the Lido pool at the stern on Deck 9 and on both sides of the Grills Upper Terrace area near the top of the ship to offer more shade on deck.

The creation of a dedicated studio will enable the ship's photographers to offer high-end portraiture, while the addition of touch screens in the photo gallery will continue the development of a digital environment in which passengers can more easily find and select their photos taken by the team.

Significant work was done in the shopping area on board: the footprint was increased, new Fine Jewellery and Watch shops were added, and the layout, lighting and overall shopping experience for passengers was enhanced.

On the technical front, scrubber technology was installed in line with Cunard's commitment to minimising the company's environmental impact. This involves installing a new filtration system for the exhaust gas from the ship's engines.

Royal Caribbean Begins Building New $55 million Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal
Royal Caribbean has begun construction on a new $55 million Cape Liberty cruise terminal that will serve as home for Quantum-class ships.

Royal Caribbean Begins Building New $55 million Cape Liberty Cruise TerminalRoyal Caribbean announced this week that it has entered into an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to build the next phase of the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ.

The $55 million project will include construction of a new, state-of-the-art guest terminal, 900-car parking garage and pier improvements. The new guest terminal will also include 125,000 square feet of space for check-ins, customs and immigration and luggage processing.

The new terminal, which is adjacent to the current terminal, will be the home for Royal Caribbean's next generation of cruise ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, which both begin service in November 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Ground breaking has already occurred and the new terminal will be complete in November 2014.

HAL's Volendam Getting 21 Lanai Staterooms, New Bar Area
When Holland America Line's ms Volendam completes dry-dock in December 2014, the ship will feature 21 new exclusive lanai staterooms, the contemporary bar area Mix and updated bathrooms in all suites and select other stateroom categories. With the conversion of existing outside staterooms to the new lanai accommodations, Volendam's guest capacity of 1,432 will not change.

HAL's Volendam Getting 21 Lanai StateroomsThe unique lanai accommodations feature large sliding-glass doors with direct access to the Lower Promenade wrap-around teak walking deck. Each lanai stateroom includes reserved deck chairs, and the sliding-glass doors have a one-way mirrored coating to ensure privacy. Holland America Line ships already outfitted with lanai staterooms are ms Maasdam, ms Rotterdam and ms Veendam.

"Volendam's itineraries in Alaska and other scenic parts of the world are ideal for direct promenade deck access and the enhanced views of the popular lanai layout," said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line's executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest relations. "We're also making other exciting enhancements to the ship, and adding Mix presents a stylish multi-themed venue for our guests to mingle and enjoy themselves."

During the dry dock, all suite bathrooms will also be updated to feature new whirlpool bathtubs, stone vanities, lighted mirrors, Grohe fixtures, floors, walls and sinks. Several additional categories, including the Lanai Staterooms, will also receive new bathroom appointments and walk-in showers.

Volendam's centrally located bars will be reconfigured to feature Mix, a space that incorporates three specialty theme bars: Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales.

Martinis serves 19 Grey Goose martinis elegantly offered in individual shakers as well as a full range of cocktails. Guests can also enjoy a martini flight made up of several mini martini concoctions. A featured cocktail is Holland America Line's signature martini, the Yellow Tulip, a mixture of Grey Goose vodka, lychee juice, pineapple juice, guava juice, coconut cream and fresh lime juice.

The bubbly flows at Champagne, which offers a selection of 20 champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world. This venue will offer events such as late champagne breakfast, pre-lunch Mimosa and Bellini hour, champagne tea time and pre-dinner champagne hour with caviar canapés.

Spirits & Ales features an international selection of beers and premium whiskeys and brandies sure to impress even the most discerning connoisseur. Here guests can drop by to enjoy a wide array of beers on tap while watching sporting events or relax after some shopping in the nearby boutiques.

Ships that already have Mix are ms Maasdam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam, ms Statendam and ms Veendam.

Costa Concordia Final Voyage Scheduled for Late July
According to the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the wreck of the Costa Concordia could be moved from the island of Giglio by the end of July. Depending on the sea conditions, and continued progress with the attachment of additional sponsons, the operation to refloat the ship could begin by July 20th.

Costa Concordia Final Voyage Scheduled for Late JulyOnce it has been refloated, the ship will be towed to the Italian port of Genoa for scrapping. The decision to take the ship to Genoa, ends a debate that included proposals from at least ten other ports in six different countries looking to secure the project.

According to Il Sole 24, "The official announcement will be given within two weeks, but the decision has been already taken during a meeting at Costa Cruises's headquarters in Genoa on Wednesday."

The Parbuckling Project website, which was set up as an information source by the consortium responsible for the wreck removal, reported that work scheduled for this week at Giglio includes the installation of Sponson S5 which is the eighth of 15 sponsons to be positioned on the starboard side of the Costa Concordia. Four sponsons will be installed on the port side.

In the meantime, repairs to the damaged sponson S13 have been completed in Genoa and the sponson is ready to depart from Genoa on board pontoon MAK tomorrow, having been now renamed S18. Currently there are more than 300 people working 24/7 in Giglio to prepare the wreck for the refloating phase.

Once refloated, the 170-mile trip to Genoa is expected to take five days at a cruising speed of 1.5 knots.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.02 + 0.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 55.22 + 1.86%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 - 0.66%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.90 - 0.21%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Most people know that Cunard's Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth served as troopships during World War II. Which two cruise ships served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which were the first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack?

Answer - The first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack were the ARGENTINA and the BRAZIL.
courtesy of Theodore Zook

Cruise News - May 26, 2014

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Announce Two New Ships
Today MSC Cruises signed a contract with Fincantieri for the construction of two new cruise ships with an option for one more. The two ships will join MSC Cruises' fleet, currently counting 12 ships.

The signature took place at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome between MSC Cruises and Fincantieri in the presence of MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and CEO Gianni Onorato, and Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono.

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Announce Two New ShipsThe new prototype will be named "Seaside" and will be the largest cruise ship ever built by Fincantieri. Its innovative features will make it unique in the shipbuilding industry. The two ships will lead the way for a new generation of cruise ships that will be completely different from an architectural point of view.

"From the moment we started talking with Fincantieri, we had in mind to design and build two completely new ships, revolutionary in their structure, unlike anything that exists on the market today," said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises. "Seaside is a futuristic prototype because of its structure, shape and versatility. Working closely with Fincantieri we are getting ready for the new and compelling challenge that the construction of these ships represents. It will be a real revolution in the world's cruise market, an excellent product for its unique and innovative architectural features and cutting-edge technology."

The two new ships will cost €700 million each, and will be funded with the support of the insurance and financial company SACE. The two ships will be delivered to MSC Cruises, owned by Gianluigi Aponte, at different times: the first in November 2017, the second in May 2018. With a length of 1060 feet, a width of 135 feet and a height of 230 feet, the new ships will have a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and will accommodate up to 5,300 passengers plus 1,413 crew members. The ships will boast 2,070 guest cabins, 759 for crew members, and 468,230 square feet of public areas available. Innovative in design and versatility, the new ships will be able to dock in any port around the world.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, declared, "This is a special day for us. Today is the start of an ambitious and new adventure with our friends from MSC, a group that prides itself on its quality and Mediterranean style. These ships, which represent a genuine design challenge, will be developed entirely by Fincantieri, confirming our technological supremacy over other shipbuilders globally. Our commitment to innovation covers all high value-added sectors, thanks to the involvement of more than 2,000 technicians and 160 employees dedicated to basic research, as well as a partner network of Italian and European centres of excellence. This core asset is what makes our group unique in its kind in the world, and allows us not only to reaffirm our leadership in a sector as complex as the cruise one, but also to count on a substantial order backlog that bodes well for a full recovery in our business."

"Today, MSC Cruises adds the last piece to its new industrial plan that will allow us to double the capacity of our fleet by 2022. With the arrival of the new ships we will reach a capacity of about 80,000 passengers a day," said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. "As of today we have launched an investment plan of over €5 billion that includes new builds, ordered in Italy and France, and the conversion of four ships already in the fleet."

The Seaside prototype presents unique features such as a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the sides of the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants. In addition, Seaside will also feature a splendid and spacious theatre, a terraced balcony and panoramic lifts with sea views.

Furthermore, the ship will boast numerous technological innovations that will, among other things, further reduce fuel consumption by 25% and advanced safety systems that go beyond what is required by international regulation.

The ships will be built to sail to the most sought-after warm weather destinations in the Mediterranean, South America and Caribbean.

Carnival Miracle To Launch Year-Round Mexican Riviera Sailings, Carnival Legend To Operate Alaska Program
Carnival Cruise Lines has made two exciting enhancements to its West Coast cruise operations, deploying two Spirit-class ships featuring a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations as well as a huge number of balcony staterooms.

The new deployments include Carnival Miracle introducing year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera departures from Long Beach, Calif., beginning in October 2014, and Carnival Legend operating the line's Alaska program from Seattle in May 2015. Carnival Miracle and Carnival Legend will also offer four Hawaii cruises in 2015-16.

Carnival Legend will be operating the Alaska program from Seattle in May 2015Carnival Legend recently underwent an extensive makeover that added a host of new features, including WaterWorks, highlighted by Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest water slide at sea, and the RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean-inspired watering hole serving the line's private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red. The full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurant offering Asian specialties and Cherry On Top, a confections and novelty store, were added, as well.

Carnival Miracle also offers a wide range of innovations, including the Serenity adults-only retreat featuring its own pool and full bar service, the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez with up to 20 family-friendly and adults-only shows each week, a wedding chapel, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot health and wellness facility, and an enclosed corkscrew water slide full of exhilarating twists and turns. Carnival Miracle will also undergo a dry dock in March 2015 that will add a huge variety of additional Fun Ship 2.0 features.

Carnival Miracle and Carnival Legend also offer fun, supervised programs for children ages 2-17, as well as nearly 850 ocean view and balcony staterooms – perfect for viewing the beautiful passing scenery.

"Carnival is the leader in West Coast cruising with more ships and itineraries than any other cruise operator. With these new deployments, we're providing two spectacular Fun Ship 2.0-equipped ships with even more fantastic features for our guests to enjoy, as well as additional opportunities to experience the rich diversity of this popular sailing region," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. "Our travel agent partners have expressed an interest in a greater variety of West Coast options so we are very pleased to provide these attractive, value-packed 'Fun Ship' cruises to market to their clients," he added.

Year-Round Mexican Riviera Cruising - Carnival Miracle will introduce year-round Mexican Riviera cruising from Long Beach on October 4, 2014.

The program will encompass three different week-long itineraries, including a new three-port, seven-day cruise featuring Mazatlan on the majority of departures. In addition to the call in Mazatlan, the new three-port itinerary will feature the stunning Mexican resort destinations of Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

The full day call at Mazatlan will provide guests with ample opportunities to explore this scenic seaside destination, which features world-class beaches and sportfishing, as well as the Malecon, an outdoor promenade lined with shops, restaurants and centuries-old architectural structures.

Carnival Miracle introducing year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera departures from Long Beach, CalifCarnival Miracle's year-round schedule from Long Beach also includes two other itinerary options. The first is a seven-day, two-port itinerary that features a stop in Cabo San Lucas, along with a two-day overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta. While in Puerto Vallarta, guests can explore this tropical paradise known for its beautiful beaches, excellent diving, and sizzling nightlife. The second alternate itinerary includes a visit to Puerto Vallarta, along with a two-day call at Cabo San Lucas, known for its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and the distinctive El Arco (The Arch), a 30-foot-high rock formation where the Pacific Ocean joins the Sea of Cortez.

Carnival Legend to Alaska - Following its inaugural season in Australia, Carnival Legend will operate the line's seasonal Alaska program beginning in May 2015. In total, 16 week-long Alaska cruises will operate from the Port of Seattle from May 26 to September 8, 2015, departing each Tuesday.

Port calls on these voyages include the popular Alaskan towns of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord or sailing Glacier Bay. Carnival Legend will also operate a special one-time eight-day Glacier Bay voyage departing Vancouver May 18 and arriving in Seattle May 26, 2015.

Each of these destinations offers a rich history and culture, along with awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life. A wide range of shore excursions – from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions – are also available. Carnival Legend will also feature an on-board naturalist who educates guests on the region's colorful history and points out animal and marine life from the ship's bridge.

Carnival will offer four Hawaii sailings in 2015-16 – an 11-day cruise on Carnival Legend departing from Honolulu in May 2015 and three 15-day voyages aboard Carnival Miracle operating round-trip from Long Beach in October and November 2015, and November 2016.

The 11-day Hawaii voyage on Carnival Legend will depart Honolulu May 7 and arrive in Vancouver May 18, 2015, with extended stops in Kauai, Maui, Hilo and Kona, along with an overnight call in Honolulu.

Carnival Miracle's three Hawaii cruises will operate round-trip from Long Beach departing October 17 and November 28, 2015, and November 16, 2016. On these sailings, guests can visit the stunning island destinations of Maui, Honolulu, Kauai, Kona and Hilo, as well as Ensenada, Mexico.

These voyages provide guests a variety of opportunities to get an "up close and personal" look at the Aloha State, from hiking across volcanic rock formations and relaxing on some of the world's most famous beaches to learning more about rich Polynesian cultures and getting a bird's eye view of the lush countryside via a breathtaking helicopter tour.

Sapphire Princess Launches Cruise Season from Home Port of Shanghai
Carnival plc today celebrated the start of the inaugural season of Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess from its new summer home port of Shanghai. This marks the first China homeport cruising program for the line, and brings an entirely new premium cruise experience called Princess Class to the rapidly-expanding China cruise market.

Sapphire Princess Launches Cruise Season from Home Port of ShanghaiDuring the four-month season, which runs through August, the line will carry approximately 70,000 guests on 24 unique cruises with itineraries ranging from three to five days. The voyages will visit famous cities in South Korea and Japan, including Seoul (Incheon), Busan, Jeju Island, Fukuoka (Hakata), Kagoshima, Okinawa and Nagasaki.

"We're excited to be the first line to offer a genuine premium cruise option to Chinese vacationers," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "We know that they are discerning travelers, and have a great desire to explore and learn through travel and unique experiences. We're well-positioned to provide this to them aboard Sapphire Princess."

In preparation for the first season, Princess conducted extensive research into what Chinese travelers value, which include a high priority on food and amenities, an exceptional shopping experience, and service in their own language. As a result the line created an experience called Princess Class.

Delivered by the ship's dedicated and caring crew, many of whom are Chinese speakers, Princess Class aims to enrich the travel experience for each guest aboard Sapphire Princess by augmenting the international offerings found on Princess ships around the world, with unique cultural, culinary, entertainment, and inspirational programs.

Special features include the World Leaders Dinner, Tai Chi at sea, ballroom dancing, Ocean View Hot Pot dinner option, "Princess Night" stateroom amenities, a large selection of subtitled Hollywood movies, a variety of Chinese satellite TV channels, and an unparalleled shopping experience. In addition to the only 24-hour buffet at sea in China, a wide variety of traditional Chinese dishes will also be offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Designed to appeal to multigenerational groups, a "Touch of Class" enrichment series includes the Sommelier Wine Excursion featuring a rare collection of Super Tuscan and Bordeaux wines, The Art of International Entertaining, Mixology: The Art of the Cocktail, and Adventures in English, among other topics.

"Princess Cruises has blazed many trails in the cruise industry, continuously evolving to meet the needs of today's vacationers, and we're doing so in the China market as well," said Cherry Wang, Carnival plc country director for China. "The innovations we've developed for our first cruise season here are behind the already promising demand for our Shanghai-based voyages. A place on Sapphire Princess is this summer's hot travel ticket."

The 116,000-ton Sapphire Princess carries 2,670 guests and, at 952 feet long, has 18 decks and 28 premium suites, with over half of the ship's staterooms featuring private balconies. The ship also includes five pools, a casino, duty-free shops, fitness center and spa, sports deck, children's and teen's centers, library, internet café, art gallery and a golf putting course, among other features.

Pullmantur Names New President and CEO
Jorge Vilches has been named president and chief executive officer of Pullmantur, one of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s (NYSE, OSLO: RCL) six brands. Vilches will be responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the brand to ensure its continuous growth and success. He will report directly to Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Pullmantur Names New President and CEOVilches has spent the past 10 years in the travel industry, holding various positions with the LATAM Group, a leader in the airline industry in South America. Most recently, he served as CEO of LATAM's long haul business unit, the group's biggest division in terms of capacity and revenue. Vilches' previous management positions at LATAM include CEO of LAN Peru, the main carrier in that South American country, and CEO at LAN Express, LAN's domestic operation in Chile. Vilches was born in Spain and has lived in a number of Latin American countries, most recently in Brazil.

"Jorge has a proven track record of success in the travel industry, and extensive knowledge of the market. I look forward to his leadership at Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Pullmantur plays an important role in Royal Caribbean's long term strategy, particularly as we expand the brand's reach into Latin America. We are confident that Jorge will use his strategic insights and market awareness to make Pullmantur the undisputed cruise leader in Spain and Latin America."

Said Vilches: "I am very excited to join the Pullmantur family. I'm a believer in strong, committed teams and sharp strategic focus. Together with an outstanding group of employees, I look forward to delivering fantastic vacations to Pullmantur guests around the world. I also look forward to joining the team at Royal Caribbean, one of the true leaders of the travel industry."

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006, it has belonged to the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., based in the United States. Pullmantur's modern fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 12,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than 60% of its business is located.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 40.02 + 3.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 54.21 + 3.04%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.97 + 2.38%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which were the first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - When Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was out on her sea trials she sported a unique entertainment option on her aft decks. This entertainment option never made it past the sea trials. What was this high flying entertainment option?

Answer - it was posting a miniature blimp!
courtesy of Ronnie Russo, Tucson, Airzona

Cruise News - May 19, 2014

Regal Princess Sets Sail on Inaugural Voyage
The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet, Regal Princess, arrived in Venice today to welcome guests on the maiden voyage. Sister ship to the acclaimed Royal Princess, her seven-day inaugural cruise includes stops in Corfu, Mykonos and an overnight call in Istanbul.

Regal Princess Sets Sail on Inaugural Voyage"We're absolutely delighted to welcome another addition to the Princess family with Regal Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "This new ship now expands our fleet to 18 vessels that visit worldwide destinations, and guests traveling aboard Regal Princess will truly have a special experience while enjoying her exciting features including the showpiece atrium, exceptional dining, relaxing Lotus Spa and innovative features like the over-water SeaWalk."

Throughout the summer, the new ship will sail on Princess' signature Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices. Regal Princess will debut in North America in November, when the traditional naming ceremony will take place, followed by a season of Eastern Caribbean cruises.

Regal Princess, a sister cruise ship to Royal Princess, will offer its 3,560 guests a variety of enticing features, including:

The SeaWalk – The ship's most distinguishing design element is an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship's starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here guests can enjoy dramatic views, including to the sea 128 feet below.

Dramatic Atrium – The social hub of the ship, the soaring atrium offers a vibrant collection of always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. Features such as Bellini's Italian cocktail bar, Ocean Terrace seafood bar, and a gelateria add to the Piazza's lively atmosphere.

Chef's Table Lumiere – Princess has set a new standard for the chef's table experience with the Chef's Table Lumiere in which guests will be magically surrounded by a curtain of light – providing a soft wall of privacy that envelopes diners as they savor the chef's special menu.

Princess WaterColor Fantasy – The ship's central pool area features daily and nightly performances of four separate themed sequences comprised of dancing fountains, special music and live performers. The Movies Under the Stars screen is also incorporated as an additional show element.

Princess Live! – The ship's television studio features programming throughout the day from 8 am until midnight. Guests can enjoy live talk shows, demonstrations and performers here, including the daily Wake Show.

Super Tuscan Wines – More than 20 choices of these headline-making wines from Tuscany are available in Sabatini's. Ranging from recognizable Super Tuscans such as Masseto, Solaia or Tignanello to some lesser known vintages such as Castello del Terricio 'Cappuanino' or Il Bruciato Bolgheri, these wines are featured by the bottle and in a Sabatini's Super Tuscan Wine Tasting event, where guests can enjoy the rare opportunity to sample the wines accompanied by delicious small plates from the Italian restaurant.

Horizon Bistro Pastry Shop – At the Horizon Court's dedicated pastry shop guests can indulge in fresh-baked goodies throughout the day and even get to see Princess' pastry chefs in action as they demonstrate their skills in chocolate work and cake decorating.

Private Cabanas – Private cabana options give guests the opportunity to personalize their relaxation time, with elegant cabanas in The Sanctuary and poolside cabanas at the Retreat Pool. Cabana guests looking for a gourmet treat can order one of the ship's new cabana picnic baskets, packed with artisan edibles paired with a premium wine. vTwo new features of Regal Princess include an additional aft pool and access to the exterior promenade on deck 7, enabling passengers to walk the length of the ship.

HAL's ms Ryndam and ms Statendam Headed To P&O Cruises (Australia)
Carnival Corporation today announced plans to significantly expand its market leadership in Australia, one of the fastest growing markets in the cruise industry.

HAL's ms Ryndam and ms Statendam Headed To P&O Cruises (Australia)With Australian cruise passenger numbers having increased 130 percent in the past five years and projections of 800,000 cruise passengers in 2013 growing to one million by 2016, P&O Cruises (Australia), one of Carnival Corporation's 10 brands, will add two ships to its fleet in 2015. With a total of five ships, P&O Cruises will establish Australia's largest year-round fleet and be well-positioned to continue meeting Australians' surging demand for cruise vacations.

The expansion leverages Carnival Corporation's industry-leading scale and underscores its strategy of increased collaboration among its 10 brands, as the two ships will be transferred from the company's Holland America Line brand to become part of the P&O Cruises fleet. In the meantime, Holland America Line is building its latest and largest ship, to be delivered in February 2016. The new Pinnacle Class ship will be 99,500 tons and carry 2,660 passengers. This new ship will replace the capacity of the two vessels moving to P&O Cruises in Australia.

"Australians know a good thing when they discover it, and that speaks to why taking a cruise has become the most popular vacation experience in the Australian tourism industry," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "By any measure, Australia is one of the top performing cruise markets in the world, with an eye-popping average annual passenger growth rate of 20 percent over the past decade."

Added Donald: "We are already firmly entrenched as the market leader, and with today's move we are poised to continue our leadership. At the same time, our ability to work among our brands to make strategic deployment decisions is a great example of our focus on leveraging our scale and increased collaboration. This is an exciting development on many levels."

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise operator in Australia and the only cruise company to have ships based full-time in Australian waters. Over the past 10 years Carnival Corporation has grown rapidly with its local fleet increasing from two full-time ships, both with P&O Cruises, to six full-time ships from three of the company's brands – three P&O Cruises ships, two Princess Cruises ships and one Carnival Cruise Lines ship. In 2015, with P&O Cruises adding its two ships and the return of Princess Cruises' Sun Princess full-time, that number will increase to nine.

HAL's ms Ryndam and ms Statendam Headed To P&O Cruises (Australia)The company's ships sail from five Australian cities as well as Auckland in New Zealand. During the past summer cruise season in Australia, the company had a record 20 ships from across seven of its brands sailing in Australian waters.

"The announcement is an emphatic statement of confidence in Australia, one of the most vibrant cruise markets in the world," said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia. "Today's news also underscores how P&O Cruises – which pioneered cruising in the country more than 80 years ago - has been the driving force in making cruising one of the most popular vacation experiences in Australia. We have a great understanding of what Australians are looking for in a vacation, and with cruising more popular than ever among Australians, this is the perfect time to meet demand with increased capacity."

Today's announcement follows recent news that Carnival Corporation in 2015 will be the first global cruise company with four ships based in China, also considered one of the world's fastest-growing cruise markets. Together, the company's moves highlight its strategy to strengthen its leadership position through the Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia, and positions the company well to realize the potential market growth.

The two ships being added to P&O Cruises, currently sailing as ms Ryndam and ms Statendam in the Holland America Line fleet, are mid-range in size, similar to the three existing P&O ships in Australia -- the Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl. The ships will be completely refurbished to offer a new level of comfort and style and will include onboard features tailored for Australian and New Zealand passengers. Full details will be announced in coming months.

Having a five-ship fleet will give P&O Cruises greater flexibility in its increased offering of short-break cruises, traditional cruises to the South Pacific and cruises to new destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Asia.

The ships will join the P&O Cruises fleet in November 2015 and itineraries are being developed for the expanded fleet.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Fleet Enhancement Program
Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it is investing more than $250 million in "Norwegian NEXT," a program focused on bringing "new enhancements, experiences and transformations" across the fleet, with the goal of elevating the guest experience and building on the success of the line's two new ships: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway.

The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on OahuNorwegian NEXT encompasses ship revitalizations, dining enhancements, new experiences in entertainment and guest activities, along with innovations in technology, new tropical destinations and the line's continued commitment to the environment. Through 2015, the company has plans to revitalize a number of vessels, including Norwegian Jewel, which just re-entered service following dry dock, along with Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Spirit, which were also recently refurbished.

"The youngest fleet at sea continues to get even better with our robust enhancement program taking place over the next two years," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "We want to continue to provide fresh and relevant experiences to our guests every time they sail with us. We are investing significantly in making sure that our guests have the vacation of a lifetime and fully experience what it means to Cruise like a Norwegian."

Norwegian reinvented the dining experience at sea with the line's Freestyle Dining concept, which it is taking to the NEXT level with the introduction of new menus in complimentary dining rooms and Garden Cafes that offer more variety and choice, including numerous new dishes crafted by expert chefs using the finest ingredients. New food and beverage venues are also being introduced across the fleet. Norwegian Jewel is the first to be retrofitted with the popular, complimentary dining venue, O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill. The line is also adding the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, first introduced on Norwegian Getaway, to Norwegian Jewel, adjacent to the new location of the Moderno Churrascaria restaurant. In addition, treats from the wildly popular Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's Cake Boss and Next Great Baker, will be featured on all ships.

Along with dining, Norwegian is also making enhancements to its beverage program. A partnership with the world-renowned Michael Mondavi Family has already introduced a new wine menu across the fleet and the family is curating wine concepts for Norwegian's upcoming new ships. A new destination-based handcrafted beverage program, developed in partnership with James Beard Award-nominated mixologist Gabriel Orta of Miami-based Bar Lab Cocktails, is bringing guests seasonal specialty cocktails with a local twist. There will also be further fleet wide beverage training of bartenders, wine stewards and restaurant managers, providing guests with an even more knowledgeable staff to further enhance the dining experience onboard.

Norwegian is an innovator in entertainment and there are a wide range of new guest activities that will be introduced across the fleet. The line's exciting new H2GLOW Party, first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will also be rolled out fleet wide. Speaking to the quality of entertainment on board, the line is producing a series of new shows at its recently opened 45,000 square foot rehearsal facility, Norwegian Creative Studios, in Tampa, Florida. From soaring acrobats in "Elements," to the 15-foot revolving showgirl staircase in "Paradis" to rocking out with the full rock band in "Rock of Ages," Norwegian's award-winning entertainment will be customized for every ship and itinerary with line-ups that will constantly stay fresh. With a focus on family, Norwegian's five ships that feature exclusive Nickelodeon entertainment will offer new activities, dining experiences, and more ways to interact with Nickelodeon favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants.

The line is focused on introducing advanced technologies and innovations that bring more freedom and flexibility to its guests' cruise vacation from start to finish. Enhanced pre-cruise planning experiences give guests the opportunity to easily design their vacation. Once on board, there is wireless internet access from bow to stern along with interactive digital displays that are being added fleet wide. These touch screen signs will allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions simply with a scan of their stateroom key. Guests can also take advantage of Norwegian's groundbreaking iConcierge mobile application to manage their cruise experience and stay in touch with fellow cruisers and family at home.

The line is also making a substantial effort to reduce its impact on the environment through its Eco-Smart Cruising programs and will install exhaust gas scrubbers on six ships, in addition to those that are already being fitted on Pride of America and the company's two new builds, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss.

Enhancements continue on the line's private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay, with the opening of the Bacardi Bar. In addition, the line is developing a new eco-friendly cruise destination, Harvest Caye, in southern Belize. The 75-acre experience is planned to open in fall 2015 and will offer guests the option to take shore excursions on the mainland or enjoy the authentic shopping village, water sports or relaxing beach area on the island. With Norwegian NEXT, the line is demonstrating its commitment to innovation and elevating the guest experience over the next two years and beyond.

Disney Returning to Hawaii, West Coast and Galveston in 2015
In the fall of 2015, Disney Cruise Line is returning to popular destinations and home ports for limited-time engagements. Two Hawaii cruises, a return to the West Coast with departures from San Diego and a Galveston, Texas homecoming make up a season of special sailings. Bookings open to the public on May 21, 2014.

The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on OahuHawaii Sailings - Disney Cruise Line will explore the Hawaiian Islands with two special 10-night cruises in September. The Disney Wonder will sail through the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, where guests can experience the famous beaches of Waikiki on Oahu, see the views from high atop the summit of Haleakala Crater on Maui, take in the lush tropical gardens and waterfalls of Kauai and, on Hawaii Island — the Big Island, explore the natural wonders of the world's most active volcano.

10-night Hawaii with two days in Honolulu – Vancouver to Honolulu Ports: Vancouver; Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai); Kahului (Maui) and Honolulu (Oahu) Departure date: Sept. 7

10-night Hawaii with two days in Kahului – Honolulu to Vancouver Ports: Honolulu (Oahu); Kahului (Maui); Hilo (Hawaii Island); Nawiliwili (Kauai) and Vancouver Departure date: Sept. 17

Galveston to the Bahamas - Starting in November, Disney Cruise Line will return to Galveston for the holiday season, offering a seven-night itinerary aboard the Disney Wonder to Key West; Nassau, Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. These sailings depart Nov. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 and 28 (New Year's cruise).

One seven-night western Caribbean cruise on Nov. 6 will visit Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Falmouth, Jamaica.

Two additional cruises are included in the Galveston season: a six-night sailing departing on Dec. 18 that stops at Key West and Castaway Cay and a four-night Christmas sailing that departs on Dec. 24 and stops at Cozumel.

San Diego to Baja - Disney Cruise Line will return to the West Coast for a limited time, offering six cruises from San Diego aboard the Disney Wonder. The five-night Baja sailings depart Oct. 4, 11 and 18, stopping at Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico.

A three-night cruise on Oct. 1 stops at Ensenada. Two-night Weekend Getaway voyages depart Oct. 9 and 16, giving guests the perfect weekend retreat aboard their Disney ship.

Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean - In 2015, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral and Miami to the Bahamas and Caribbean on a variety of itineraries. All of these cruises include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 38.84 - 2.29%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 52.61 + 0.02%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 - 1.63%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 33.18 + 2.47%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was out on her sea trials she sported a unique entertainment option on her aft decks. This entertainment option never made it past the sea trials. What was this high flying entertainment option?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which famous liner came to the assistance of the Andrea Doria after she was struck by the Swedish liner Stockholm in 1956?

Answer - It was the French Ile de France
courtesy of liberte50@t-online.de

Cruise News - May 12, 2014

Royal Caribbean Orders Fourth Oasis-Class Vessel
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) announced today that it has agreed with STX France to move forward on the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2018. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard D. Fain and President and Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein, along with STX France Chief Executive Officer Laurent Castaing, announced the planned ship order at the keel-laying ceremony for the third Oasis-class ship at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

Royal Caribbean Orders Fourth Oasis-Class Vessel"The Oasis Class was a revolution in maritime design when it was launched in 2009. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns. Today's announcement is a reflection of their success," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are thrilled to announce the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship during the keel-laying milestone of the third. This announcement is also a testament to the men and women of STX France who have worked so hard and so cooperatively on Oasis III."

The order is subject to documentation and satisfaction of financing and other customary conditions. Projected capital expenditures for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are $1.4 billion, $1.4 billion, $2.2 billion, $0.3 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, taking into account this order and existing ship orders.

Known for pushing the boundaries and as part of the cruise line's continuous improvement mantra, Oasis III will be approximately 20 percent more energy efficient than Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, which already are the most energy efficient cruise ships in the world. The fourth Oasis-class ship will further build on that efficiency.

"We are very excited that Royal Caribbean has agreed to move forward with a fourth Oasis-class ship demonstrating their confidence in STX France to construct the most superior cruise ships in the world," said Laurent Castaing, Chief Executive Officer, STX France. "We look forward to advancing the efficiencies of our ship building process to produce the most innovative ships that vacationers have come to expect from Royal Caribbean."

The keel laying of the third Oasis-class ship marks an important milestone in the development of the ship, as it signifies the beginning of its physical construction. During the ceremony, a 1,000-ton block measuring 32-ft by 154-ft (10 x 47 meters) was lifted by crane into the building dock. Newly minted coins were placed under the keel and will stay in place there until the end of the ship's construction. Once the ship is near to completion, the coins are retrieved and presented to the ship's Captain and crew to be placed onboard the ship. According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction process and then to its Captain and crew when she is sailing out at sea. Still to be named, the third Oasis-class ship will be delivered in spring 2016.

The third and fourth Oasis-class ships will join Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas – which took the cruise industry by storm with their launch in 2009 and 2010, respectively – and share the title of the largest ships in the world. They feature a revolutionary design with a split superstructure and the cruise line's neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas. At 225,282 gross registered tons and spanning 16 decks with 2,700 staterooms, the Oasis-class ships also introduced extraordinary "firsts" at sea such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the AquaTheater high-diving performance venue, and the Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. The Oasis Class also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H2O Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others.

Carnival Dream Rescues 39 In Caribbean

Carnival Dream Rescues 39 Mariners Earlier today, while en route from Grand Cayman to Jamaica during a seven-day Caribbean cruise, shipboard personnel aboard the Carnival Dream observed a small boat in distress.

In keeping with a longtime tradition of aiding mariners in distress, Carnival Dream altered its course to render assistance to the small craft.  Thirty-nine individuals – 34 adult males and five adult females – were brought on board, evaluated by the ship's medical team, and provided with food, water and fresh clothing.

All appropriate authorities, including the United States Coast Guard, were notified.

We are extremely proud of the officers and crew on the Carnival Dream for keeping a sharp lookout on the bridge and coming to rescue of this group who had been adrift at sea for several days, as well as providing them with care and assistance on board our ship.

Carnival Dream is currently on a seven-day Caribbean cruise that departed New Orleans on Sunday, as part of its year-round schedule of week-long Caribbean voyages from that port.


Cunard's Queens Line Up Three Abreast For Photo Shoot
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and her sister ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria sailed in formation from Lisbon to the UK ahead of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh's visit to celebrate Queen Mary 2's 10th anniversary in Southampton on Friday 9 May.

For the first time ever, the three Cunard Queens were photographed side-by-side at sea as part of a shoot that took months of meticulous planning.

Cunard's Queens Line Up Three Abreast For Photo ShootQueen Mary 2 is on the final leg of her World Cruise and her sister ships were on hand to escort her home in style.

Photographer James Morgan took to the skies in a helicopter to capture these shots of the three ships sailing abreast of one another.And while it may look effortless, they are the result of a long planning operation in which the safety of the vessels and the thousands of people upon them was paramount.

The centrepiece of the shoot was Queen Mary 2 herself, the only ocean liner in service today and still the fastest passenger ship afloat ten years after she was named by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004. The ship measures 1,132 feet in length – longer than the Shard in London is tall - and stands 236.2 feet in height. She also weighs in at an impressive 150,000 gross tons. Since entering service Queen Mary 2 has sailed 1.5 million nautical miles on over 400 voyages including 213 Transatlantic Crossings. She has called at 182 ports in 60 countries and carried over 1.3 million guests

The 90,900 ton Queen Elizabeth is the newest member of the Cunard family, having been named by Her Majesty The Queen in 2010, and measures 964.5 feet in length.

Rounding off the trio is Queen Victoria, named in 2007 by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and (just) the smallest of the Queens at 90,000 gross tons and measuring 964 feet in length.

James Morgan said: "Most of the work in this type of photography is actually in the preparation beforehand. You don't just happen to go up in a helicopter and take a great shot. Months of preparation go into planning these things for that one moment."

Part of this planning was a logistical meeting with the captains and crew of the three ships to schedule down to the minutest detail how this photo shoot would come about.

It took the three ships around an hour to sail out of Lisbon to the site of the shoot. All shipping in the area had to be totally cleared for the three Queens to ensure absolute safety for the technical manoeuvre.

David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line, said: "This is the first time all three Queens of the Cunard fleet have been seen together anywhere outside Southampton or New York, and the first time these magnificent ships have been seen together at sea."

James said: "It's all about orchestrating the manoeuvre in advance. When you are dealing with the largest ocean liner in the world, you can't sit in a helicopter asking if it can go left a bit or right a bit because it doesn't work like that. A three ship formation like this has to be finely coordinated and choreographed ahead of time. It's not like directing traffic – this is more like ship ballet."

Carnival Corp Sending Costa Serena To China
Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise company, today announced Costa Serena will deploy year-round in China next year, making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with four ships based in China, the world's fastest-growing cruise market. The move will accelerate Carnival Corporation's leadership in China, capitalizing on growing consumer demand that is expected to make the country the second largest cruise market in the world by 2017.

Celebrity Equinox Joins University of Miami OceanScope ProgramCosta Cruises, one of Carnival Corporation's 10 industry-leading brands, announced today it will debut Costa Serena in Shanghai in April 2015, where it will join Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica, both already deployed in China. The move will increase Costa's overall capacity in Asia by 74 percent.

The Costa Cruises expansion builds on eight years of successful operations in China and Carnival Corporation's surging momentum as the largest operator in the country. In addition to Costa Serena, another Carnival Corporation brand, Princess Cruises, will homeport out of Shanghai starting May 21 through Sept. 3, 2014, with Sapphire Princess, providing another unique cruising experience for Chinese travelers. Adding a third ship based in China this year increases Carnival Corporation's total 2014 capacity in the country by 66 percent. In 2015, with four ships based in China for the first time, Carnival's industry-leading capacity is expected to jump 140 percent over a two-year period.

"Carnival Corporation has for years recognized that Chinese travelers would love the cruising experience, and that is why Costa Cruises was the first global cruise line to commit to sailing from China back in 2006," said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald. "We have never been more committed to China as a market of great strategic importance for our company, and with today's news we will be the only global cruise company to have four ships operating out of China. More than that, as the world's largest cruise company with a portfolio of 10 of the world's most celebrated cruise lines, we are very well positioned to continue working with government officials in China to help the country meet its goal of becoming one of the most important cruise markets in the world."

Donald added, "Today's news is another big step in that direction. Chinese travelers love sailing on Costa's Victoria and Atlantica, and we are confident they will also love sailing on Costa Serena and Sapphire Princess. Our team is passionate about delivering a unique experience designed to exceed the expectations of every guest who boards one of our ships."

Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group, said of today's expansion announcement: "Costa Serena's arrival in China is a monumental occasion for our company, and we're proud to be the first global cruise line to have three ships based in China. As we execute our strategy to accelerate growth in China, which has great market potential, we have the benefit of eight years of experience in China to not only help guide our expansion, but also to find unique ways to surprise and delight our guests as more travelers in China experience 'Italy at Sea' with Costa."

Carnival is investing significantly in China as well as in Asia to take advantage of strong growth opportunities across the region. In addition to investments in China, Carnival is concentrating on growth efforts in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea to maintain and expand its leadership position in Asia. Highlights of Carnival's strong momentum and leadership in the region include:

• Capacity: Industry-leading cruise presence in China in 2014 and 2015, including 66 percent increase in total 2014 capacity in China and 140 percent increase over a two-year period.

• Port Calls: Industry leader with 23 ships across seven brands visiting 90 ports in Asia with an estimated 1,439 port calls planned for 2014, including 220 port calls across five brands in China.

• Sales offices: Carnival operates 10 offices in Asia, more than any competitor, including five locations in China – Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

• Industry firsts: Costa was the first global cruise company to sail from China in 2006; Princess was the first global cruise line to offer a full season of sailing with a homeport in Japan, starting in 2013.

• Brand strength: Carnival Corporation has seven of its 10 brands sailing in Asia: Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises and Seabourn.

Adding further to Carnival Corporation's commitment to China, the company's Princess Cruises brand will officially introduce Sapphire Princess to China on May 21. Sapphire Princess will bring the brand's premium cruise experience – Princess Class – to Shanghai for a four-month season during which it is expected to carry 65,000 passengers on roundtrip cruises.

Based on key research insights, the Princess Class premium cruise experience offers customized services and onboard features for Chinese guests to enhance and enrich their travel experience. Guests on the new China-based cruises will be treated to exceptional cultural, culinary and entertainment programs, including the World Leaders' Dinner, English Afternoon Tea, Ultimate Balcony Dining, the only 24-hour buffet at sea in China, Tai Chi and Zumba at sea, "Princess Night" personal touches and luxury shopping. Princess Class also includes a "Touch of Class" enrichment series designed to appeal to multi-generational groups with offerings such Social Etiquette classes and a Sommelier Wine Excursion.

Additionally, itineraries will range from three to seven days, which is the ideal range of vacation days for the Chinese market, according to research.

Celebrity Equinox Joins University of Miami "OceanScope" Program
Last week, as Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Equinox completed its scheduled dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, it joined Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas in a program that tracks ocean circulation dynamics and measures atmospheric and oceanographic conditions, on repeated journeys. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s ships are known for providing vacationers with innovative experiences, extraordinary service, and award-winning cuisine as they cross the world's oceans. Not as well known – but critically important worldwide – is the scientific research conducted on several of these ships by the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The scientists capture and analyze oceanographic and atmospheric data on the vessels sailing worldwide.

Celebrity Equinox Joins University of Miami OceanScope ProgramThe scientists record ocean temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll concentration, as well as properties of the ocean's surface, such as reflectance and absorbance. In addition, they measure meteorological properties, such as wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and humidity. These data help scientists monitor, understand, and forecast climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and help sustain the livelihoods of local people, especially in developing countries, where coral reefs contribute about one-quarter of the annual total fish catch, providing food to about one billion people in Asia alone.

"These data are proving to be of invaluable assistance in calibrating and verifying the American and European satellites monitoring climate change throughout the ocean," said Dr. Peter B. Ortner, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "Smaller packets of data are transmitted on an hourly basis through RCCL's regular satellite link and large data sets will be sent back via Internet connection when the ship is in port."

"Royal Caribbean is extremely proud of the collaboration with the OceanScope program to foster greater understanding of the global climate system and the oceans on which our ships sail," said Rich Pruitt, Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL). "Our business depends on ocean health, and part of protecting ocean health is understanding the atmosphere and its effects."

Funded in part by RCL's Ocean Fund, The University of Miami's OceanScope equipment on Explorer of the Seas has tracked ocean circulation dynamics since 2000, in the North Atlantic basin that the ship sails through while on Bermuda and Caribbean routes from the US Northeast. The Allure of the Seas lab tracks these conditions through the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and has done so since 2012. The installation of an OceanScope lab on Celebrity Equinox will provide insight into the ocean dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea, across the North Atlantic and along the Iberian Peninsula.

RCL created The Ocean Fund in 1996, to support marine conservation organizations in safeguarding the health of the world's oceans and coastal communities. The Fund aims to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on the environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life. Since the Ocean Fund's establishment, RCL has given over $13 million to over 75 organizations around the world for projects that relate to ocean science, climate change, key marine species, education and innovative technologies.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 39.75 + 2.16%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 52.60 - 0.51%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.07 - 0.65%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.38 + 1.06%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous liner came to the assistance of the Andrea Doria after she was struck by the Swedish liner Stockholm in 1956?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - In September 2002 a would be "dare-devil" attempted to rappel 200 feet from a suspension bridge onto the deck of a cruise ship passing beneath. In what city did this take place and what ship did he attempt to board?

Answer - The ms Veendam in Vancouver, BC. He lowered himself from the Lyons Gate Bridge in September, 2002.
courtesy of Paul Rienth, Williamsburg, VA
(For photos and more information about this whacky stunt visit this page or this page)

Cruise News - May 5, 2014

Windstar Welcomes Star Pride
Today, Windstar debuted the all new, all suite Star Pride in Barcelona, Spain during a christening ceremony and pier-side fiesta to celebrate the launch of the luxury yacht's inaugural voyage through Spain, France, and Italy.

Mrs. Nancy Anschutz, wife of Mr. Philip Anschutz, owner of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Windstar's parent company, was honored as Godmother of the yacht. She successfully christened Star Pride with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in front of a crowd of past guests, media, and trade partners.

Windstar Welcomes Star PrideDuring the ceremony, Mrs. Anschutz was joined on stage by her husband Philip, in addition to Andy Todd, CEO of Xanterra Parks & Resorts; Hans Birkholz, CEO of Windstar Cruises; Captain Alan MacAry, 15-year Windstar veteran who serves as master of Star Pride, and Father Marto Rodriguez. Our guests of about 200 people also helped us celebrate the launch of Star Pride with a pier-side fiesta that included local entertainment, such as a Catalonian Rumba band and street performers from Las Ramblas, as well as Spanish tapas and sangria.

"Star Pride is the first of the three small luxury cruise ships added to the Windstar yacht fleet, and it leads the way as Windstar enters a new era of small ship cruising," said Hans Birkholz, chief executive officer of Windstar Cruises. "We are honored to have Mrs. Anschutz serve in the prestigious role of Godmother. It's fitting to have her christen Windstar's first yacht in 16 years as the Anschutz family and Xanterra Parks & Resorts, have been an integral part of Windstar's transformation the last few years."

Star Pride's debut follows an intensive 3-week transformation period in which all of the yacht's public spaces, dining venues, and suites were updated to meet our casually elegant, warm, and contemporary style. To complete Star Pride's stem-to-stern transformation in Barcelona, we partnered with Alan McVitty and Trimline Interiors, both of whom spearheaded the recent $18 million renovation of our sailing yachts.

The updates to Star Pride's décor include new furnishings, upholstery, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings. Additionally, Star Pride introduced our new Destination Suites. Each of the Owner's Suites showcases a signature Windstar destination, complete with cultural décor and local art work. We will eventually implement the Destination Suites fleet-wide.

Following Star Pride's inaugural voyage, the yacht will spend its summer season in the Mediterranean. In the fall, Star Pride will embark on our brand new itineraries to the exotic wonders of Asia and Arabia.

Star Pride will offer guests four new unique voyages to choose from, including Black Sea Tapestry, a 7-day cruise through the enigmatic, once hidden, wonders of the Black Sea. Guests can cruise the southernmost tip of the Aegean on Pride of the Aegean, a 9-day cruise from Athens to Istanbul. Riviera Enchantment discovers the glamour, and the excitement of the world's most famous yachting playgrounds on a 7-day voyage round trip from Rome. Star Pride will also sail through the Corinth Canal, a first for Windstar, on the 9-day cruise, Venetian Passageways, from Athens to Venice. Additionally, in May 2014, the all suite yacht will dock in Monte Carlo and feature an exclusive Grand Prix themed voyage.

Star Pride is the first of three new power yachts to join the Windstar fleet. Star Breeze will begin its maiden voyage on May 6, 2015, from Nice, France. Star Legend, will make its inaugural voyage on May 25, 2015, from Rome, Italy.

All three yachts are identical, with a guest capacity of 212 in 106 suites. At 10,000 gross tons, each yacht is 440 feet long with a breadth of 63 feet and six passenger decks. Similar to Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze will undergo major transformations to public spaces, suites, and dining venues to fit our intimate, casually elegant style of small ship cruising.

The yachts' size fit perfectly with our small ship philosophy of exploring secluded coves and hidden harbors.

Carnival's Third Ship from Port Canaveral Launches Year-Round Service
Further bolstering its position as Central Florida's largest cruise operator, Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Liberty departed on its inaugural voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., this weekend, becoming the line's third year-round ship sailing from the Space Coast.

With the arrival of Carnival Liberty, Carnival will increase its annual passenger count from Port Canaveral to 600,000 – more than any other cruise operator.

Carnival's Third Ship from Port Canaveral Launches Year-Round ServiceOn Carnival Liberty's new schedule from Port Canaveral, vacationers can select from a variety of five-, seven- and eight-day Caribbean itineraries conveniently departing from the Central Florida while enjoying a wide range of dining, bar and entertainment innovations that were added as part of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program.

Carnival Liberty joins the totally transformed Carnival Sunshine, which launched year-round five- to eight-day Caribbean departures from Port Canaveral last month, and Carnival Sensation, offering year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast.

In addition to three different year-round ships each with an exceptional number of features and facilities, vacationers have their choice of an unprecedented 200 cruises a year departing from Port Canaveral visiting 18 tropical islands throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida – the widest array of cruise lengths, durations and destinations from Central Florida.

Carnival Liberty's year-round schedule from Port Canaveral encompasses five- to eight-day departures featuring the best the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida have to offer.  Five-day cruises call at Nassau, Freeport and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay or Key West, while seven-day western Caribbean voyages visit Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya with week-long eastern Caribbean sailings featuring at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau. Two different eight-day options are offered – a unique eastern Caribbean itinerary featuring Grand Turk, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and San Juan, and a southern Caribbean program visiting Aruba, Curacao or Bonaire, and Grand Turk.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2014
Norwegian Cruise Line (NASDAQ: NCLH, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., NCL Corporation Ltd., "Norwegian" or "the Company"), today reported results for the quarter ended March 31, 2014, and provided guidance for the second quarter and full year 2014. The Company also announced that its Board of Directors today has authorized a three-year, $500 million share repurchase program.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2014For the first quarter of 2014, Norwegian reported an increase in Adjusted EPS to $0.23 on Adjusted Net Income of $49.6 million compared to $0.06 and $12.9 million, respectively for the same period in 2013. On a GAAP basis, diluted earnings per share and net income were $0.24 and $51.3 million, respectively.

Net Revenue in the period increased 27.8% to $499.3 million, driven by a 23.2% increase in Capacity Days and a 3.8% improvement in Net Yield. The increase in Capacity Days was primarily from the addition of Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway to the fleet in May 2013 and January 2014, respectively. The Net Yield improvement of 3.8%, or 3.9% on a Constant Currency basis, was a result of higher passenger ticket and onboard and other revenue. Revenue for the period increased to $664.0 million from $527.6 million in 2013.

"Our strong results in the quarter include an almost four-fold increase in earnings on an adjusted basis," said Kevin Sheehan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "With both Breakaway class ships now in our fleet, it is easy to appreciate the impact of their impressive earnings power, which includes commanding double-digit premiums over other Norwegian ships in the same itinerary," continued Sheehan.

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 3.7% (3.4% on a Constant Currency basis) mainly due to inaugural and launch-related costs for Norwegian Getaway along with incremental expenses for the planned dry-dock of Norwegian Spirit. Norwegian's fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, was $643 compared to $673 in 2013. Fuel consumption per Capacity Day in the quarter decreased 6.8% which excludes an additional benefit of 0.7% from dockside charters for vessels used as floating hotels.

Interest expense, net for the quarter was $31.2 million compared to $127.7 million in 2013. Interest expense, net in 2013 included $90.5 million in charges related to the prepayment of certain credit facilities and the redemption of certain of Norwegian's senior notes with proceeds from both Norwegian's initial public offering and other transactions. Excluding these charges, Adjusted Interest Expense, net was $37.2 million in 2013. The year-over-year reduction in interest expense is due to lower interest rates in the period resulting from the Company's capital structure optimization initiatives carried out in 2013 which more than offset the impact from higher debt balances related to the financing for Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway.

Norwegian recorded an income tax benefit of $9.4 million compared to an expense of $2.2 million in the prior year. The income tax benefit in 2014 is primarily related to the election of an alternative, acceptable tax methodology in connection with the change in Norwegian's corporate entity structure completed in 2013. This election resulted in a $6.7 million non-recurring benefit which has been excluded from Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EPS.

In addition to the results for the first quarter, Norwegian also provided the following guidance for the second quarter and the full year 2014, along with accompanying sensitivities.

"Our young modern fleet, including our earnings-rich newbuilds, coupled with our strategy of consistent deployment, particularly our commitment to the European market, allow us to reiterate our full year adjusted EPS guidance, which translates into 60% earnings growth," said Sheehan.

Norwegian announced today the authorization by its Board of Directors of a three-year, $500 million share repurchase program. Norwegian may repurchase its ordinary shares from time to time, in amounts, at prices and at such times as it deems appropriate, subject to market conditions and other considerations. Norwegian may make repurchases in the open market, in privately negotiated transactions, in accelerated repurchase programs or in structured share repurchase programs, and any repurchases may be made pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 plans. The program will be conducted in compliance with applicable legal requirements and will be subject to market conditions and other factors.

"Our focus at Norwegian is to drive shareholder value by strengthening our product proposition, honing our strategy of driving demand and increasing returns through our disciplined newbuild and fleet enhancement programs. This share repurchase program complements these initiatives by allowing us to be flexible and opportunistic to repurchase shares at attractive levels," said Sheehan.

The program does not obligate Norwegian to acquire any particular amount of ordinary shares and the program may be modified or suspended at any time at Norwegian's discretion. As of March 31, 2014 Norwegian had approximately 205 million ordinary shares outstanding.

Norwegian carried out two successful dockside charters which showcased the brand, provided valuable exposure and introduced new potential guests to Norwegian's product offering. In January, Norwegian Getaway played host to the Bud Light Hotel during Super Bowl 48 in New York. The event received over one billion impressions and was one of the hubs of activity during the festivities leading up to the game. In February, Norwegian Jade served as a dockside hotel for guests attending the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "The Bud Light Hotel and Sochi charters are just the latest examples of our strategy to develop new and innovative ways to show off our incredible ships and incomparable service to guests who may not have considered a cruise vacation."

Norwegian made several announcements in the quarter regarding its latest newbuild, Norwegian Escape, which is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany for delivery in the fall of 2015. On March 20, the first steel was cut at the yard, marking the ceremonial beginning of construction of the 4,200 berth ship. Norwegian also unveiled renderings for the ship's varied accommodations, including the latest rendition of Norwegian's signature ship-within-a-ship complex, The Haven by Norwegian®. The artist and design for the Norwegian Escape's hull art was also announced during the quarter. Norwegian has commissioned famed marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey to create a signature work that, at 1,065 feet, will be his largest piece to date. The design, which runs from the bow to stern, features scenes of undersea and aerial wildlife. Norwegian also announced support for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, an organization which funds marine-related scientific research and educational programs.

Regarding deployment, Norwegian announced that for the 2015/2016 season, Norwegian Epic, currently Norwegian's largest ship, will trade her seasonal winter Caribbean itinerary for a year-round deployment out of Barcelona, further demonstrating Norwegian's commitment to the European market. Following Norwegian Epic's exit from the Caribbean, Norwegian Escape will arrive to Miami in November 2015, offering 7-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Norwegian Getaway will continue her year-round deployment from Miami, sailing 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries. Other highlights from Norwegian's winter 2015/2016 deployment announcement include a return to sailings in South America on Norwegian Sun and the deployment of Norwegian Jewel to sail seasonal Mexican Riviera voyages from Los Angeles. Said Sheehan, "This deployment not only demonstrates our commitment to providing a consistent offering for our guests and travel partners, but also our ability to exploit the growth of our fleet to return to markets where we had a past presence or expand into new markets. In addition, our growing fleet allows us to deploy some of our most innovative assets to enhance our presence in key markets, as is the case with Norwegian Epic in Europe. Her deployment out of Barcelona will give the U.K. and continental European markets the ability to sail year-round on one of the world's largest and most innovative ships."

Norwegian also announced plans for the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers on six additional ships to reduce fuel emissions along with Norwegian's overall carbon footprint. This order is in addition to scrubbers that are almost complete on Pride of America and contracted for installation on the upcoming Norwegian Escape and Bliss. Installation of the scrubbers on the six ships will take place beginning this spring and continuing through 2016.

Princess Cruises Announces 2015-2016 Americas Sailings
Princess Cruises announced its 2015-2016 Americas cruise itineraries including Caribbean, Canada and New England, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaiian Islands and West Coast cruises. The array of cruise vacations departing from U.S. ports range from three to 28 days and go on sale May 13.

In total, 12 ships will sail on more than 230 departures on 48 itineraries to 86 destinations. Guests will have the opportunity to sail on Princess' two newest cruise ships to the Caribbean - Royal Princess and Regal Princess while for the first time ever, two of the line's largest sister ships, Crown Princess and Ruby Princess, will be positioned together on the West Coast. In addition, Princess will offer a nostalgic 50th anniversary cruise to Mexico and an all-new, five-day Mexico sampler cruise with an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas.

"The close-to-home departure ports, combined with the variety of cruise lengths and some of our most exciting ships, will offer our guests some amazing vacation experiences," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

Full Details of Princess Cruises' 2015-2016 America's season include:

Regal Princess will sail on seven-day voyages roundtrip from New York to the New England ports of Newport, Boston and Bar HarborCanada & New England Cruises - Guests can enjoy the fall foliage on two ships sailing from the East Coast in September and October. Regal Princess will sail on seven-day voyages roundtrip from New York to the New England ports of Newport, Boston and Bar Harbor, and the Atlantic Canadian ports of Saint John and Halifax. Caribbean Princess will sail on the line's popular 10-day itinerary between New York and Quebec, including an overnight in Quebec and calls to the charming seaside villages of Gaspé and Ville Saguenay, Quebec in addition to the ports of Newport, Boston, Portland, Saint John and Halifax.

Caribbean Cruises - Offering sailings to the Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale and Houston, five ships will offer a variety of options to explore this vibrant region.

Princess' two newest ships, Regal Princess and Royal Princess, will be returning to the sunny and picturesque Caribbean for the 2015-16 season. Regal Princess will offer both seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages that can be combined for a longer cruise vacation aboard our newest vessel in the Caribbean, while Royal Princess will sail on the line's most popular Caribbean itineraries - the 10-day Southern Caribbean Medley and 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager - which can also be linked for a longer 20-day cruise.

Emerald Princess will sail on a series of four-, five- and seven- day Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages, which guests can combine to customize and create a longer Caribbean cruise, in addition to two special eight-day holiday cruises visiting either the Eastern or Southern Caribbean. Ocean Princess will offer the unique small ship cruising experience on a special 14-day holiday Caribbean cruise to exclusive ports less-frequented by larger vessels including Virgin Gorda, Tobago and St. Vincent.

Caribbean Princess will return to Houston for voyages to the Western Caribbean.

Panama Canal Cruises - Coral Princess and Island Princess will once again bring guests through the iconic Panama Canal. Guests can choose from either a 10-day voyage sailing roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale including partial transit of the canals, or a longer 15-day voyage between Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles to experience the full-transit of this wonder of engineering.

Smaller ships, Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess will also join the Panama Canal line-up on several departures of a 17-day itinerary – offering a choice of ship size to see the Canal.

West Coast Cruises – Hawaii, Mexico & Coastals - On the opposite coast, four ships will be deployed from three homeports – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver – to the tropical waters of Hawaii, Mexico and along the charming California coast.

Crown Princess and Ruby Princess will become the largest sister ships to sail from the West Coast this season offering a variety of destination options including Mexico, Hawaii, and CaliforniaA nostalgic 50th Anniversary cruise to Mexico, where the line first sailed, will take place on Pacific Princess departing December 3, 2015 - the same day Princess Patricia departed on its first-ever cruise in 1965. The itinerary will include a blend of some ports of call from the maiden itinerary such as an overnight call in Puerto Vallarta, as well as Mazatlán and Manzanillo, with some of our newer destinations including La Paz and Loreto located along the Baja Peninsula.

Crown Princess and Ruby Princess will become the largest sister ships to sail from the West Coast this season offering a variety of destination options including Mexico, Hawaii, and California Coastal voyages sailing from Los Angeles. Grand Princess will return to San Francisco for voyages to Mexico, Hawaii and cruises along the West Coast. Star Princess will also offer voyages to Hawaii roundtrip from Vancouver during the spring and fall, in addition to cruises sailing along the West Coast.

Crown Princess will offer a fall departure of the increasingly popular 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific itinerary which allows west coast guests to visit the idyllic South Pacific islands of French Polynesia and Samoa without a flight.

Three- and four- day Getaway voyages will return on three different ships with departures on Crown Princess and Ruby Princess, in addition to fall departures on Star Princess. Passengers will also have the option of an all-new five-day Getaway itinerary, offered in November and December on Star Princess that includes an overnight in Cabo San Lucas allowing guests more time to explore the port's pristine waters or relax on one of the white-sand beaches.

Legend of the Seas Headed Down Under For 2015-16
Royal Caribbean International today announced Legend of the Seas' year-round deployment for 2015-16, offering itineraries to breathtakingly beautiful destinations throughout Southeast Asia from Singapore in the summer season, and sailings to idyllic settings in Australia and the South Pacific during the winter season from the cruise line's new homeport of Brisbane, Australia. With Mariner of the Seas' also sailing from Singapore in the winter season, Legend of the Seas' new summer season will mark the first time that the cruise line will offer year-round sailings from Singapore. Additionally, Legend of the Seas willjoin Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas to total a record deployment of four Royal Caribbean ships in Australia. Legend of the Seas 2015-16 Southeast Asia, Australia and South Pacific cruises will open for sale on May 21, 2014.

Legend of the Seas Headed Down Under For 2015-16Legend of the Seas will begin its 2015 summer with a 15-night Westbound Panama Canal crossing, departing in April from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to San Diego, Calif. From there, the ship will embark on a trio of sailings across the Pacific to Singapore. A 10-night Hawaii cruise from Ensenada, Mexico, will take guests to the islands of Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii – with a cruise by the world famous and still-very active Kilauea Volcano – and conclude at Honolulu, Oahu. From there, Legend of the Seas will sail a 17-night itinerary to Sydney, Australia, via the French Polynesian islands, Fiji and New Caledonia. The ship will then complete its half-way-around-the-world voyage to Singapore via the north coast of Australia.

While homeported in Singapore, Legend of the Seas will sail a variety of three- to 10-night roundtrip itineraries throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam through mid-November. Vacationers also can choose among two consecutive 14-night itineraries in September, a southbound sailing from Singapore to Perth (Fremantle), Australia, followed by a northbound return, both taking guests to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Western Australia.

Legend of the Seas will then transitionfrom Singapore to its new homeport of Brisbane on an 18-night itinerary, departing in late November. During the cruise line's first season sailing from the Australian city, vacationers can choose among a wide range of eight- to 11-night, round-trip itineraries that take them to Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands and Fiji in the South Pacific. The shipalso will offer seven-night Queensland sailings which feature an overnight at Cairns. Additionally, a 14-night New Zealand itinerary will take guests to Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Akaroa, and Dunedin, as well as cruise Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford sounds.

Recently having undergone an extensive revitalization, Legend of the Seas offersguests seven delicious dining options, including the cruise line's signature Chops Grille steakhouse, Izumi Asian Cuisine, Park Café gourmet deli, and the exclusive Chef's Table, a multi-course dining and wine-pairing experience hosted by the executive chef and sommelier. Most exciting has been the addition of the Centrum aerial-acrobatic extravaganza, making the ship's central five-deck atrium an unexpectedly spectacular entertainment venue. Every stateroom and bathroom also have been renewed and new ship-wide technology enhancements, such as an oversized LED movie screen poolside, digital signage at elevator lobbies, flat-panel televisions in staterooms, and bow-to-stern WiFi service, help offer guests the most contemporary vacation experience. Suite guests and the most loyal Crown & Anchors Society members also respectively enjoy exclusive access to the new Concierge Club and Diamond Club lounges, while the youngest guests – age six- to 36-month old – can rest soundly in the ship's new Royal Babies & Tots Nursery. Throughout, guests will enjoy Royal Caribbean's world-renowned friendly and engaging GOLD Anchor Service.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 38.91 + 0.75%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 52.87 + 3.04%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.09 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 32.04 + 1.17%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In September 2002 a would be "dare-devil" attempted to rappel 200 feet from a suspension bridge onto the deck of a cruise ship passing beneath. In what city did this take place and what ship did he attempt to board?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - In which year and on which Cunard vessels were the first bathrooms installed?

Answer - 1870, aboard Abyssinia & Algeria.
courtesy of Herbert VanDeGraft

Cruise News - April 28, 2014

Regal Princess Completes Successful Sea Trials
Regal Princess has accomplished another major milestone in preparation for her May 20 debut, with the completion of her sea trials.

Regal Princess Completes Successful Sea TrialsThe new cruise ship set out to sea from her construction dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and was put through her paces with a series of maneuvers to test her propulsion, steering and navigational equipment. After a successful five days of trials, the ship is now back in the shipyard for further exterior and interior finishing. Regal Princess will be ready for her maiden voyage from Venice, a seven-day Mediterranean cruise to Athens including stops in Corfu, Mykonos and an overnight call in Istanbul.

Throughout the summer, the new ship will sail on Princess' signature Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices.

Regal Princess, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will offer guests a variety of enticing features, including a soaring atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas; the Princess Live! television studio; a dedicated pastry shop; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

Celebrity Unveils New Luxury Features Onboard Celebrity Equinox
Celebrity Cruises has today revealed a series of brand-first enhancements to be introduced onboard Celebrity Equinox. Emerging from a scheduled drydock in Cadiz, Spain on Thursday, May 8, the Solstice Class ship will tout new signature spaces and experiences in time for guests' summer vacations during Celebrity's most immersive season in Europe.

Celebrity Unveils New Luxury Features Onboard Celebrity EquinoxRecognized for its unique and rich dining program, Celebrity will add two one-of-a-kind concepts to the array of guest-favorite Solstice Class features onboard:

• Gastrobar – A new craft beer and comfort food venue, Gastrobar will offer food and beer enthusiasts over 40 handcrafted boutique beers to choose from in addition to Celebrity's varied collection of wines and tasty cocktails with a twist, all perfectly paired with a menu of elevated bar-fare creations. Gastrobar's upscale casual surroundings will feature inviting entertainment and music for the complete sophisticated lounge experience. Guests can find the new venue in the space formerly known as Cellar Masters.

• Slush – Expanding guests' ‘cool' beverage options, Slush – a frozen drinks venue – introduces Celebrity's curated menu of flavor-rich and fresh frozen cocktails. Slush will feature alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails with perfectly balanced ingredients ranging from fresh pressed lemon juice, raspberries, cucumbers and mint to Persian lime, Florida Valencia and Hamlin orange juice with organic agave nectar.

Celebrity Equinox will also expand its retail offerings with "The Studio - Fine Art Photography" – a high-end portrait studio ideal for capturing guests' friends, family or couples vacation photos; the addition of the ever-popular Michael Kors boutique, first introduced onboard Celebrity Silhouette; enhanced upscale brand products available in stores including Chanel, Clinique, Dior, Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Desigual and UNOde50; and the ship's new Internet lounge, Celebrity iLounge, in the space formerly known as Online@Celebrity.

Starting June 15, 2014, Celebrity Equinox offers four different 7-night Mediterranean sailings, which can be combined into immersive vacation experiences as long as 28 nights, with Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy the only repeat port-of-call in the lineup.

Royal Caribbean Reports First Quarter Results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported first quarter results and slightly raised its outlook for full year 2014.

Royal Caribbean Reports First Quarter ResultsOverall, the year is developing along the course the company previously anticipated. First quarter results were at the lower end of the company's guidance due to some minor voyage disruptions but this impact is expected to be offset during the rest of the year. Full year Adjusted Earnings Per Share (Adjusted EPS) is expected to be in the range of $3.25 to $3.45, which raises the company's previous guidance by $0.05.

Results for the First Quarter 2014:

• Net Yields were down 0.3% on a Constant-Currency basis (down 2.7% As-Reported). Unplanned voyage disruptions within the quarter negatively impacted yields for the quarter by about 0.5%.

• Net Cruise Costs ("NCC") excluding fuel increased 1.3% on a Constant-Currency basis (1.0% As-Reported).

• Adjusted Net Income was $46.1 million, or $0.21 per share, versus Adjusted Net Income of $78.2 million, or $0.35 per share, in 2013.

• US GAAP Net Income, which reflects some restructuring and related charges, and the impact of the operations of the divested Pullmantur non-core businesses, was $26.5 million, or $0.12 per share versus $76.2 million, or $0.35 per share in 2013.

Full Year 2014:

• Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $3.25 to $3.45 per share.

• Net Yields are expected to increase 2% to 3% on a Constant-Currency basis (2% to 3% As-Reported).

• NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to slightly down on a Constant-Currency basis (Approx. flat As-Reported).

The company has completed the sale of Pullmantur's non-core businesses. As previously disclosed, the results of these businesses and the restructuring and related costs associated with the sale of these businesses along with our previously announced global restructuring actions have been excluded from non-GAAP measures to provide better comparability.

For the full year Royal Caribbean said that it expects to incur $23 million in restructuring and related charges and approximately $11 million from the first quarter operating loss incurred by the divested Pullmantur non-core businesses, totaling $34 million in 2014. In the first quarter Royal Caribbean said that it incurred $19.6 million, leaving approximately $14.4 million for the balance of the year.

"It is gratifying to see 2014 developing methodically along such a positive trajectory," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our business strategy is proving itself nicely while strength in our global markets is more than compensating for a highly promotional Caribbean."

FIRST QUARTER RESULTS - Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2014 was $46.1 million, or $0.21 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $78.2 million, or $0.35 per share, in the first quarter of 2013. US GAAP Net Income for the first quarter 2014 was $26.5 million or $0.12 per share compared to $76.2 million or $0.35 per share in 2013.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis decreased 0.3% during the quarter. Excluding the unplanned voyage disruptions, yields were slightly better than flat. Six voyages were shortened or cancelled during the quarter. The net impact from these events is expected to be recovered within the fiscal year.

Ticket revenue was in line with expectations across most key itineraries and as expected, Caribbean yields were down slightly while yields in other itineraries were up nicely. Onboard revenue yields increased 3.4% as we continue to see the benefit of our fleet upgrades and onboard revenue management initiatives.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel increased 1.3% which is better than guidance mostly due to timing. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the first quarter was $713 per metric ton and consumption was 343,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2014 - Royal Caribbean said that it has raised full year Adjusted EPS guidance slightly to a range of $3.25 to $3.45 from $3.20 to $3.40. Constant-Currency Net Revenue Yields and Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be consistent with our previous guidance of up 2% to 3% and flat to slightly down, respectively.

Booking volumes for the past three months have been up about 16% year-over-year, with bookings for the past 8 weeks up by more than 20%, stronger than typical post-Wave periods. For example, Royal Caribbean said that it experienced a record booking week at the end of February which is an unusual time for so much activity. As a result, load factors and APDs are higher than same time last year. While the promotional environment in the Caribbean has contributed to the strong booking volumes, demand has also increased for other itineraries.

Demand for European sailings from all key sourcing regions and for China sailings remained particularly strong throughout the period and double digit yield improvements are expected for both products.

"Despite pressures in the Caribbean, the diversity provided by our global footprint is proving its value. This model has allowed us to take advantage of the strong demand for our European and Asian products, while successfully navigating pressures in the Caribbean," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer.

In the first quarter Royal Caribbean said that it continued to leverage its improving credit profile and a healthy bank market to further reduce our interest costs.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to slightly down on a Constant-Currency basis and approximately flat on an As-Reported basis. Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it has raised its 2014 guidance for Adjusted EPS to a range of $3.25 to $3.45 per share.

SECOND QUARTER 2014 - Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase between 1.5% to 2.5% in the second quarter of 2014. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be down 2% to 3% on a Constant-Currency basis. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and current exchange rates, Royal Caribbean said that it expects second quarter Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $0.45 to $0.55 per share.

Royal Caribbean said that it does not forecast fuel prices, and its fuel cost calculations are based on current at-the-pump prices, net of hedging impacts. Based on today's fuel prices the company has included $245 million and $957 million of fuel expense in its second quarter and full year 2014 guidance, respectively.

Forecasted consumption is 55% hedged via swaps for the remainder of 2014 and 51%, 30% and 10% hedged for 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. For the same four-year period, the average cost per metric ton of the hedge portfolio is approximately $616, $642, $614 and $597, respectively.

Carnival To Add Third Year-Round Ship In Galveston
Carnival Cruise Lines will add a third year-round ship in Galveston when Carnival Freedom launches a seven-day cruise schedule in February 2015, marking the first time that a cruise line has deployed three year-round ships in Texas.

Carnival To Add Third Year-Round Ship In GalvestonCarnival's repositioning of Carnival Freedom represents a 38 percent capacity increase for the line in Galveston, carrying more than 600,000 guests a year from that port – the most of any cruise operator.

Prior to its arrival in Galveston, Carnival Freedom will undergo a previously announced makeover that will add an array of innovative new features that are part of the line's fleetwide Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative.

With the addition of Carnival Freedom, Carnival will offer three highly innovative and exceptional ships sailing year-round from Galveston that offer a huge variety of exciting features. Carnival Freedom will join Carnival Magic, which offers seven-day Caribbean cruises, and Carnival Triumph sailing four- and five-day departures to Mexico. Together, these three ships will operate nearly 200 four- to seven-day voyages annually from Galveston, providing consumers with an array of cruise lengths, departure days and itineraries for "Fun Ship" cruising from Texas.

"Galveston is already one of our most popular embarkation ports and with Carnival Freedom we're not only dramatically expanding capacity in the market but also providing consumers with yet another exciting opportunity to experience our spectacular Fun Ship 2.0 innovations on a Texas-based ship," said Gerry Cahill Carnival president and CEO. "In partnership with the Port of Galveston and the local community we have been able to increase our passenger counts five-fold since we first launched service from Galveston in 2000. Additionally, we are extremely grateful for the support of our travel agent partners who have played a key role in the growth of our Texas cruise program," he added.

"We are thrilled to have an additional member of the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet, Carnival Freedom, call the Port of Galveston its new home," said Galveston Port Director Michael Mierzwa. "For the past 14 years, the Port and Carnival Cruise Lines have enjoyed a wonderful partnership. Not only does home-porting these three ships represent the largest-ever capacity commitment by a cruise line to Texas but it also reinforces the partnership that we have fostered with Carnival through the years."

Carnival Freedom will kick off its new schedule from Galveston with a special six-day Caribbean voyage to Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize; and Cozumel departing Feb. 15, 2015.

Following the six-day voyage, Carnival Freedom will launch year-round seven-day departures from Galveston Feb. 21, 2015, encompassing three different itinerary choices that visit beautiful ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida.

Carnival Freedom's week-long itineraries from Galveston include:

• Exotic western Caribbean voyages departing Saturdays to Cozumel; Belize; and Mahogany Bay, Roatan

• Western Caribbean voyages departing Saturdays with stops at Montego Bay, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel

• Eastern Caribbean sailings departing Saturdays visiting Key West, Fla.; and Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas

Carnival Freedom will also offer a series of four- and five-day cruises from Oct. 24 through Nov. 21, 2015; and Jan. 16, 2016 through Feb. 13, 2016. Four-day cruises visit Cozumel, while five-day cruises call at Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.

In preparation for its Galveston arrival, Carnival Freedom will offer a unique 12-day cruise departing Fort Lauderdale Feb. 2 and arriving in Galveston on Feb. 14, 2015. The one-time voyage will feature port calls at five magnificent Caribbean island destinations – St. Kitts, St. Lucia; Curacao; Aruba; and Grand Cayman, each of which boasts gorgeous white-sand beaches, a variety of watersports opportunities and an array of shopping, dining and sightseeing experiences.

Carnival Conquest, currently based in Miami, will assume Carnival Freedom's year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean schedule from Fort Lauderdale, beginning Jan. 18, 2015

MSC Divina Headed To Mediterranean In 2015
MSC Cruises is strengthening its commitment to serving the North American market with the deployment of the MSC Divina to the Mediterranean during the summer of 2015. The first of the line's ships dedicated to North American travelers, MSC Divina will bring its signature service and onboard experiences to the most sought-after Mediterranean seven-night itineraries beginning May 16 through October 3, 2015. Once the summer sailings are completed, MSC Divina will enter dry dock in Europe before returning to Miami in November 2015 to continue the popular seven-night Caribbean departures.

MSC Divina Headed To Mediterranean In 2015"After exposing MSC Divina to thousands of guests in the Caribbean, customer surveys are showing an increased desire for North Americans to sail onboard MSC Divina in the Mediterranean," said Richard E. Sasso, president, MSC Cruises USA. "The enhancements made at the start of the Caribbean season to ready MSC Divina for the North American market have certainly paid off with positive ratings and increased repeat business. This has led to our decision to maintain the MSC Divina onboard product designed around the senses of American taste, entertainment and comfort and expand her offerings into the Mediterranean, the hottest and most desired vacation destination by North Americans today," continued Sasso.

MSC Divina will begin her Grand Voyage on April 26, 2015, from Miami making a stop in New York, King's Wharf, Bermuda and then continuing onto Ponta Delgada, Lisbon, Cadiz, Barcelona, Naples and Civitavecchia. From May 16, 2015 through September 26, 2015, the ship will sail seven-night Mediterranean cruises departing from Civitavecchia and visiting the ports of La Spezia, Cannes, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Naples and returning to Civitavecchia.

On September 26, 2015, MSC Divina will end her Mediterranean season with a unique 10-night sailing featuring additional calls in Tunisia, Malta, and Sicily. Highlights of MSC Divina's Mediterranean season include:

• Ability to embark two marquee ports: Civitavecchia on Saturdays and Barcelona on Wednesdays, allowing for a customized vacation experience with outstanding pre- and post-cruise opportunities and ample airlift from the United States and Canada.

• Late night stays in La Spezia enabling guests to visit nearby cities of Pisa, Florence, Portofino and Cinque Terre.

• Call in Naples will allow time to visit Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast.

• An array of shore excursions allowing guests a full immersion into the region with experiences such as an architectural tour of the famed work Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, attending the Pope's weekly Angelus on St. Peter's Square in Rome, visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii, and much more.

Before returning back home to South Florida for a third season of seven-night Caribbean cruises, MSC Divina will receive a series of renovations while in dry dock in Europe including some surprise enhancements specifically tailored to appeal to North American passengers.

MSC Divina is currently sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from PortMiami which continue through April 2015.

Two HALe Ships Return to Asia for 2014-15 Season
From winter 2014 through spring 2015, Holland America Line will have two ships exploring the mysteries and wonders of the Far East. The 1,432-passenger ms Volendam will sail a series of 14- to 17-day cruises and nonrepeating itineraries, while the 1,404-passenger ms Rotterdam takes an epic 90-day "Passage to the Far East" journey.

The 1,432-passenger ms Volendam will sail a series of 14- to 17-day cruises and nonrepeating itinerariesAll of the cruises feature exotic ports of call with extended and overnight stays at some of Asia's most iconic cities. The longer visits provide travelers ample time to explore the region's extensive collection of historical and notable landmarks.

"As more travelers look to fulfill their dream of a vacation to far-off corners of the globe, the Far East remains popular due to its historical significance, wealth of sightseeing opportunities and mysterious allure," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "From overland tours to the Bagan Temples to a chance to see the famed Komodo dragon, the length and diversity of our Asia cruises make them a truly unique experience."

New 14-day Asian Adventure Voyages - New this year, Volendam will sail three 14-day "Asian Adventure" cruises roundtrip from Singapore. Departing Dec. 22, 2014, and Feb. 2 and March 16, 2015, the ship calls at ports in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. Guests will enjoy an overnight stay at Singapore and Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar, as well as an extended port call at Port Kelang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia.

14-day Far East Discovery Voyages - The ship also sails a series of 14-day "Far East Discovery" cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong, China. Guests can embark Jan. 5 and 19, Feb. 16, March 2 or 30. The itinerary calls at Koh Samui, Thailand; Sihanoukville, Cambodia (with a late departure); several ports in Vietnam including late departures from Nha Trang and Halong Bay; and an overnight call at Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand.

The Asia Adventure and Far East Discovery itineraries can be combined for a 28-day Collectors' Voyage departing Dec. 22, 2014, and Feb. 2 and March 16, 2015.

16-Day Great Barrier Reef Voyage - Volendam sails three nonrepeating itineraries at the beginning and end of the season, starting Nov. 22, 2014, with a cruise from Sydney, Australia, to Singapore. The 16-day "Great Barrier Reef" voyage explores eastern Australia with calls at Hamilton Island and Port Douglas (Cairns), with an extensive Great Barrier Reef experience. Guests will witness a sunrise at Lizard Island, sunset at Piper Island and sail around the Ribbon Reef and Far North regions and through the Torres Strait. The ship says goodbye to Australia with a final call at Darwin before visiting Komodo Island, Bali and Java in Indonesia.

14-day China and Japan Voyage - In the spring, Volendam sails a 14-day "China and Japan" voyage departing Hong Kong April 13 and ending at Kobe, Japan. Along the way the ship calls at Shanghai and Xingang (Beijing), China, both overnight calls enabling guests to explore those bustling cities; Jeju (Cheju) and Pusan, South Korea; and Nagasaki, Japan.

17-day Trans-Pacific - Guests looking for an adventure can embark April 27 at Kobe for a 17-day trans-Pacific voyage to Vancouver, British Columbia. Following an overnight call at Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan, and calls at Hakodate and Kushiro, Japan, guests will enjoy leisurely days at sea crossing the Pacific Ocean to Canada. The ship visits Kodiak and Sitka, Alaska, with memorable scenic cruising along Alaska's famous Inside Passage.

Tthe 1,404-passenger ms Rotterdam takes an epic 90-day Passage to the Far East journeyThe 14-day China and Japan itinerary can be combined with the 17-day trans-Pacific cruise for a 31-day "China, Japan and North Pacific Crossing Collectors' Voyage."

90-Day Passage to the Far East Voyage - Rotterdam starts the new year off with a 90-day "Passage to the Far East" voyage sailing roundtrip from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Jan. 7, 2015. Guests who find it more convenient can cruise roundtrip from Southampton, England, departing Jan. 8 for an 88-day voyage. The ship sails east with calls at Portugal, Morocco, Spain, Malta and Greece, before a daylight transit of the Suez Canal. Following relaxing sea days, the ship stops at Muscat, Oman, and Dubai, U.A.E., before reaching India. After several calls in that country, the ship makes way to Thilawa (Rangoon) for an overnight visit.

The Far East is extensively explored with calls throughout Singapore, Jakarta, Indonesia and Malaysia before sailing back to Sri Lanka, India, Oman, Jordan and Egypt. During the voyage, guests can take advantage of extra time in port with overnight calls at Port Klang, Malaysia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Mumbai (Bombay), India; Bali and Singapore. Following a transit through the Suez Canal, the ship explores Italy and Spain before returning to Southampton and Rotterdam.

Segments ranging from 34 to 55 days are available between Rotterdam, Southampton and Singapore.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 38.62 + 3.73%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 51.31 + 0.55%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.09 + 3.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 31.67 + 4.52%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In which year and on which Cunard vessels were the first bathrooms installed?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which shipping line was the first to have a three-ship transatlantic service in operation, and what was the name of the third ship to join the first two?

Answer - The first line to have a 3 ship transatlantic express service was Cunard Line. The last ship to join the trio was the Aquitania in 1914. (The first pair of the trio were the Lusitania and Mauretania, both of 1907).
courtesy of Paul Hoffman

Cruise News - April 21, 2014

Carnival Sunshine Sails on Inaugural Caribbean Voyage from Port Canaveral
To commemorate the inaugural Caribbean departure of Port Canaveral's newest ship, the totally transformed Carnival Sunshine, Space Coast residents gathered this weekend in nearby Jetty Park to wave streamers and spell out "BON VOYAGE" as the ship sailed past.

TCarnival Sunshine Sails on Inaugural Caribbean Voyage from Port CanaveralThe 3,006-passenger Carnival Sunshine – which underwent a massive $155 million makeover that added all of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, as well as 182 new staterooms – operates year-round five- to eight-day voyages from Port Canaveral visiting tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Florida.

Innovations on Carnival Sunshine include WaterWorks featuring a 334-foot-long Twister slide – the longest in the Carnival fleet – along with a stunning three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, Guy's Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, and SportSquare, an outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course, mini-golf, basketball court and more.

Carnival Sunshine builds upon the line's leadership position at Port Canaveral.  Carnival Sunshine, combined with Carnival Sensation, and Carnival Liberty which launches service next month, will result in 600,000 passengers annually sailing on Carnival ships from Port Canaveral – more than any cruise operator.  Carnival's three Port Canaveral-based ships will operate 200 three- to eight-day voyages a year.

Princess Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Mexico Sailing
To cap a year of 50th anniversary activities, Princess Cruises, which celebrates the five decade mark in 2015, has created a special Mexico itinerary departing on December 3, 2015 – exactly 50 years to the day that the line's original ship, Princess Patricia, set sail on the company's very first cruise in 1965.

The lines original ship, Princess Patricia, set sail on the company's very first cruise in 1965Offered on the intimate Pacific Princess, next year's unique sailing is the same length as the company's first cruise – 14 days – and will include a blend of ports from the maiden itinerary such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, with some newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto.

Guests on the cruise will be treated to an array of activities and entertainment commemorating half a century of cruising by the famous line, and will also be joined by some surprise guests.

This anniversary sailing on Pacific Princess, which carries 670 guests, is available for sale on May 13 and fares start at $1,699 per person, double occupancy.

"This nostalgic cruise to Mexico will be the perfect finale to what's sure to be a special 50th anniversary year for Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "For this significant milestone we couldn't resist recreating, with some new touches, the very first cruise our company operated. And because the name Pacific Princess is so integral to our company's history, we wanted to offer the cruise aboard the current ship with this iconic name."

One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises first set sail in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico. Nearly 50 years later, the line has grown to become the third largest cruise line in the world and a recognized leader in taking travelers to some of the most fascinating places around the globe.

Holland America Line Launches ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill'
Holland America Line is enhancing the Terrace Grill on its 15 premium ships and rebranding the popular lunch spot as "Dive-In at the Terrace Grill." The outdoor bistro-style grill area by the ships' Lido pool will feature new signature burgers, hot dogs and fries.

All of the signature burgers are hand-formed, freshly made beef patties featuring Holland America Line's secret Dive-In SauceThe first ships to open the new gourmet grill were ms Eurodam, ms Amsterdam and ms Maasdam. The remaining ships in the fleet will be opening Dive-In at the Terrace Grill throughout summer 2014. The areas will be decorated with new Dive-In signage and décor.

"We're always listening to our guests and travel partners for ideas to evolve the dining experience on our ships with new concepts, and the Dive-In is an exciting enhancement to our culinary offerings," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest programs for Holland America Line. "For a casual meal, Dive-In offers a delicious choice with a gourmet twist."

All of the signature burgers are hand-formed, freshly made beef patties featuring Holland America Line's secret Dive-In Sauce, chop-chop lettuce and sliced tomato on a toasted brioche bun in addition to other accoutrements. Guests can choose from burgers such as The Gainer, which is served with a mound of crispy frizzled onions; The Cannonball with Gouda cheese, applewood smoked bacon and sweet caramelized onions; and The High-Dive with cheddar cheese. Guests in the mood for chicken can choose The Back Flip chicken breast burger topped with guacamole and all the burger dressings, while vegetarians can sample The Freestyle, a vegetarian burger with grilled portabella mushroom topped with melting Gouda and cheddar cheeses, avocado and Dive-In sauce.

"I applaud the creativity and skills of our culinary team to come up with a tasty menu that could be a stand-alone bistro grill on land," said Michael Smith, senior vice president, marine hotel operations for Holland America Line. "It's been a fantastic hit with our guests so far and we know it will continue to be very popular."

Signature hot dogs feature Nathan's Famous all beef dogs, all served with Dive-In Sauce in a poppy-seed bun. The Dive-In Dog is topped with American-style mustard and a mound of crispy frizzled onions; The Dog Paddle is topped with sauerkraut, crispy bacon bits and German mustard, while The Dunkin' Dog is topped with melty cheese sauce, pickled jalapenos and chopped red onions.

No hamburger or hot dog would be complete without Dive-In French Fries, and guests can order them three ways: traditional, topped with Dive-In Sauce or smothered in melty cheese sauce.

The existing Taco Bar will continue to be available with the Dive-In at the Terrace Grill. Guests make their own taco with handmade tortillas or hard taco shells and a selection of popular condiments and fillings including chicken, beef and pork.

Royal Caribbean Announces 2015-16 Itineraries from New York, Galveston
Royal Caribbean International today announced its 2015-16 year-round sailings from the New York-metropolitan area and Galveston, Texas, and seasonal sailings from Tampa and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Still ranked among the world's largest and most innovative cruise ships, Liberty of the Seas will homeport at Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. for summer 2015 and offer vacationers the most advanced cruise options to sail from the New York-metropolitan area to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada and New England. Simultaneously, Navigator of the Seas will continue to sail seven-night Western Caribbean cruises throughout summer 2015 and complete two consecutive years of homeporting at Galveston.

In winter 2015-16, Anthem of the Seas will arrive at Cape Liberty for its first season in North AmericaIn winter 2015-16, Anthem of the Seas will arrive at Cape Liberty for its first season in North America – after finishing its inaugural season in Southampton, U.K. – and offer vacationers unforgettable Quantum-class experiences to the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean. At the same time, Liberty of the Seas will take over weekly Caribbean sailings from Galveston, offering Texas vacationers a newer and larger ship, while Navigator of the Seas will sail six- and eight-night Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale. Furthermore, Brilliance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will return to Tampa in winter 2015-16 to offer a variety of Caribbean itineraries that all combine to provide extensive choices for exciting Royal Caribbean cruise vacations throughout 2015 to 2016.

Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas' 2015-16 cruise seasons are now open for booking. Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members have the exclusive privilege to book Anthem of the Seas' winter 2015-16 season starting April 25, 2014, in advance of the general opening to the public on April 29.

New York is among the world's top cosmopolitan cities where Royal Caribbean is deploying its most technologically advanced ships. Throughout the 2015 summer and autumn seasons, Liberty of the Seas will homeport at Cape Liberty and offer the best family cruise vacation option in the region. The Freedom-class ship will be the cruise line's newest and largest ship to offer cruises to Bermuda from the New York-metropolitan area. Liberty of the Seas will alternate a five-night, roundtrip Bermuda itinerary with a nine-night Caribbean itinerary in the summer, and then with a nine-night New England and Canada itinerary throughout the autumn season.

"The Bermuda Tourism Authority is delighted at the news that Royal Caribbean International's Liberty of the Seas will be making visits to Bermuda for the 2015 summer season," said Bill Hanbury, CEO, Bermuda Tourism Authority. "Royal Caribbean is an extremely valued partner to Bermuda and is considered a leader in the global cruise market. This latest announcement is a welcome endorsement of Royal Caribbean's continued commitment to Bermuda and its tourism industry."

For its winter 2015-16 season, Anthem of the Seas will set sail on October 27 for an eight-night Ocean Voyage from Southampton to Cape Liberty and continue Quantum Class cruising for New York-area vacationers. The ship will sail a range of seven- to 12-night roundtrip itineraries and take guests to the Bahamas and throughout the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. The 12-night Western Caribbean itinerary is brand new, featuring maiden calls for the Quantum Class at George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

"The New York-metropolitan area is a very important market for us," said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are committed to bringing our most advanced ships to this region and delivering our distinctive style of high-quality vacations to our loyal customers, as well as win new converts to cruising. Sailing Anthem of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas from New York fits the bill perfectly."

Having just been revitalized in January 2014, Navigator of the Seas offers vacationers the most innovative and modern cruise experience to sail from the Lone Star StateHaving just been revitalized in January 2014, Navigator of the Seas offers vacationers the most innovative and modern cruise experience to sail from the Lone Star State. Navigator of the Seas will continue weekly sailings from Galveston until November 2015, when Liberty of the Seas repositions there to offer Texans a larger and more advanced cruise ship for unforgettable vacations. Both ships will alternate a pair of seven-night roundtrip itineraries to the Western Caribbean.

Vacationers also have a range of the industry's most advanced ships for a variety of Caribbean itineraries, sailing from convenient Florida ports during the 2015-16 winter season. Completing two full years of homeporting in Galveston, Navigator of the Seas will reposition to Fort Lauderdale in November 2015 and sail six-night Eastern and eight-night Western Caribbean itineraries.

For its part, Brilliance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will return to Tampa for their third and second consecutive winter seasons, respectively. Brilliance of the Seas will offer vacationers four- and five-night Western Caribbean itineraries, while Vision of the Seas will sail seven-, nine-, and 10-night itineraries throughout the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry "firsts" never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL), the cruise line sails 21 of the world's most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. World renowned for its friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, delivered by every staff and crew member, Royal Caribbean has been voted "Best Cruise Line Overall" for 11 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2015 Japan Cruise Program
Demonstrating a continuing commitment to developing the Japan cruise market, Carnival Corporation & plc has announced the 2015 Japan cruise program for Princess Cruises which features Diamond Princess returning for the line's third season, and introduces new cruises as short as three nights to appeal for those local travelers seeking a quick getaway.

Beginning next April, the Japanese-built Diamond Princess will once again offer an exciting season sailing from the two home ports of Tokyo (Yokohama) and KobeBeginning next April, the Japanese-built Diamond Princess will once again offer an exciting season sailing from the two home ports of Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe. During the four-month summer season the ship will offer 20 departures on a mix of itineraries visiting more than 20 destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The mix of itineraries is designed to have broad appeal, with cruises as short as three nights and up to 17 nights for guests seeking a more in-depth experience in Japan.

"We are very pleased to bring Diamond Princess back to Japan again next summer, this time with a broader variety of itineraries and cruise lengths offering guests a diverse choice of experiences and destinations," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "In addition to offering local consumers a shorter cruise experience, our longer sailings will offer an enriching and convenient way to explore many of Japan's most fascinating port cities."

Swartz added that Sun Princess will not be returning to Japan next summer as it will instead be deployed to Australia where it has long been a popular ship based in the region. "Moving Sun Princess to Australia in 2015 doesn't diminish our enthusiasm for the Japan cruise market. As demand for cruising grows further in Japan, we will review the opportunity to add additional capacity in the future."

Diamond Princess will begin the 2015 season on April 29 in Yokohama with an eight-night Golden Week itinerary and a nine-night Taiwan & Korea sailing. The ship will then position to Kobe for a series of three cruises of Princess' popular eight-night Ryukyu Islands & Taiwan voyages that include calls to Okinawa, Hualien, Kaohsiung and Taipei (Keelung). New for 2015 from Kobe is a 10-night Hokkaido cruise that includes appealing northern destinations of Aomori, Hakodate, Otaru and Abashiri.

Diamond Princess will return to Yokohama to spend the balance of the summer sailing north to the island of Hokkaido or around Japan, visiting culturally rich destinations such as Maizuru (for Kyoto), Nagasaki and Aomori. A special feature of the Hokkaido voyages is the late evening departure from Hakodate, which is famous for the nighttime view from the top of Mt. Hakodate, as well as the morning fish market.

Also new for the 2015 season, which runs through mid-September, are three-, four-, five- and seven-night itineraries designed to appeal to those with limited vacation time. Throughout the summer Diamond Princess will sail on a four-night Korea Getaway roundtrip from Kobe, plus a five-night Korea & Japan Getaway roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and a five-night Korea & Japan Getaway that positions between the two homeports. In August, the ship will sail on a week-long itinerary roundtrip from Yokohama which can be segmented into a three-night Korea Getaway disembarking in Hakata, or a four-night Korea & Japan itinerary embarking in Hakata.

The experience onboard Diamond Princess in Japan will substantially be the same as that offered by Princess Cruises around the world, providing an impressive array of dining and entertainment options in addition to the line's signature innovations such as its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat. However as done during the first two Japan seasons, some changes and enhancements will be made to appeal to the local market. The just-completed refurbishment of Diamond Princess added Izumi Japanese bath – the largest of its kind at sea – as well as a Kai Sushi restaurant.

Dining room menus will offer international Princess cuisine, while additional offerings will cater to Japanese tastes, and a la carte sushi bar will be opened. Other amenities such as the spa treatments will also be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

An extensive array of shore excursions will be available to complement the itineraries including opportunities to visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Diamond Princess was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan – the first of two Princess ships built in Japan.

Carnival Inreoduces New Marine-Themed ‘Camp Ocean' Children's Program
Carnival Cruise Lines, the leader in family cruising, today unveiled Camp Ocean – an exciting, new marine-themed children's program coming to its fleet of 24 "Fun Ships." Set to debut on Carnival Freedom on May 24, the expansive new program will immerse children ages 2-11 in the wonders of the sea through fun, engaging and educational experiences.  More than 200 new ocean-inspired activities will range from educational games such as Sea Creature Discovery, Marine Life Trivia, Under the Sea Mad Libs and Ocean Artifacts Memory Tray to creative arts opportunities such as Design Your Own Aquarium, Make Your Own Sailboat, Sea Salt Art, and Create a Penguin from Oreos.

Carnival Inreoduces New Marine-Themed ‘Camp Ocean' Children's ProgramCamp Ocean, which will replace the line's existing Camp Carnival program, will welcome youngsters in with light blue and white underwater colored spaces and friendly, experienced staff.  Three age-related categories will each have their own identity: children ages 2-5 will be dubbed "Penguins," with those ages 6-8 called "Sting Rays" while 9-11 year olds will be "Sharks."

Distinctive areas and activities have been custom-created for each of the new age designations – from miniature play igloos for the Penguins to interactive gaming stations for the Sharks. On Carnival Freedom, which begins a multi-million dollar refurbishment tomorrow, and Carnival Vista, which debuts in 2016, a new purpose-built Camp Ocean play area will include Party Reef, a common shared space that brings each of the groups together, as well as Creative Cove, a breakout room for arts and crafts activities.

"While our current children's program consistently gets very high marks, we've challenged ourselves to exceed expectations with a truly dynamic and diverse program for our youngest guests," said Mark Tamis, Carnival's senior vice president of guest operations. "With our new highly tailored age groupings and themed activities connected to the oceans and their fascinating underwater habitats, we're excited to invite kids to Camp Ocean to have an extra special and memorable Carnival vacation experience."

Camp Ocean also provides travel agents with an exceptional family-friendly feature to market to their clients with children, he noted.

 Introduction of Carnival Play Panel

In developing the new Camp Ocean program, the company convened a Carnival Play Panel comprised of experts in child education, media and play to develop and curate the more than 200 new activities to resonate with today's children and to continually review and guide updates to the children's programming. The panel includes:

  • Toni Linder, professor emeritus at the University of Denver who consults on child development and education for young children both nationally and internationally and also serves as graduate coordinator at the College of Education at the University of Denver specializing in child engagement and education.
  • George Arthur Bloom, who has more than 20 years of experience in children's media and programming including writing for longtime favorites such as Magic School Bus, My Little Pony and the original Transformers TV series.
  • Matt Brown, recognized expert in play who has been vice president of LeapFrog and senior vice president of Scholastic, is an advisor for PBS Kids, and currently works as chief gaming officer of Conteneo.
  • Chris Byrne, a30-plus-year veteran of the toy industry and current partner in aNb Media LLC who also serves as content director forTTPM.com.
  • April Norris, loyal Carnival Cruise Lines guest and mother of two who serves as a trusted advisor to the brand.

The new Camp Ocean activities span across 11 key categories of play, including the core themes of active play, games, free play, arts and crafts and digital, coupled with additional categories such as role play, music, party time, science and discovery, social and food fun, all designed to find the ideal combination of activities catering to children's varied interests.

New Badge Challenge

Carnival will also introduce a Badge Challenge as part of Camp Ocean, which will provide the opportunity for kids to earn and collect badges as a special memento of their cruise.  Badge challenges will include a variety of unique activities that provide an original way for kids to learn about their vessel, experience onboard adventures and gain a sense of accomplishment. After completing tasks which may include trying a new food, making an aquatic towel animal or riding the water slide, children will collect corresponding Camp Ocean badges.

Continued Leader in Family Cruising

The new Camp Ocean program builds upon Carnival's leadership position in family cruising with more than 700,000 kids expected to sail on Carnival ships in 2014. Another recently announced enhancement to the line's children's programming is a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to introduce the family-focused Seuss at Sea, with youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world and words of Dr. Seuss.

Carnival's popular programs for tweens and teens, Circle C (for 12-14 year olds) and Club O2 (for 15-17 year olds) will continue across the fleet.

Rollout of Camp Ocean will begin aboard Carnival Freedom in May 2014 following a major refurbishment which will also include the line's first Dr. Seuss Bookville interactive reading venue. Camp Ocean will be introduced on Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Triumph later this year with the balance of the fleet implemented by 2016, including Carnival Vista which is set to debut in early 2016.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 37.23 + 2.06%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 51.03 - 0.02%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 - 0.66%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 30.30 + 1.30%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which shipping line was the first to have a three-ship transatlantic service in operation, and what was the name of the third ship to join the first two?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Which ocean liner and cruise ship has the distinction of having sailed with one, two and three funnels over her long career?

Answer - The Furness-Bermuda lines was the only passanger/cruise ship to sail with one, two and three funnels during her long career. She was built in the early thirties as a three funneled liner. During WWII she served as a troopship with only two funnels. After the war she returned to service as a three funnel ship. In the early sixties she was refitted and came out as a single funnel liner. This made her look similar to her more modern sistership the Ocean Monarch.
courtesy of Larry P. MacDonald

Cruise News - April 14, 2014

NCL Cancels Roatan Stops After Murder Of Crew Member
NCL Cancels Roatan Stops After Murder Of Crew MemberNorwegian Cruise Line announced this week that is cancelling calls to Roatan this week after a crew member from Norwegian Pearl was killed last Sunday night, April 6, 2014 while ashore in Roatan.

According to local police reports, the crew member was killed during an attempted robbery while in Roatan. Local officials are investigating and have the alleged suspect in custody.

In a post on its Facebook page Norwegian Cruise Line said that it is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of a crew member from Norwegian Pearl in Roatan. The cruise line said that in an abundance of caution for their guests and crew, that they have cancelled calls to Roatan this week for Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Jewel.

In addition to NCL, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Regent Seven Seas all have ships scheduled to visit the island this week but none of these cruise lines have announced any changes to their schedules or plans to stop calling at Roatan.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Promotes Adam Goldstein to President and COO
Adam Goldstein has been named president and chief operating officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSLO: RCL), the company announced today.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Promotes Adam Goldstein to President and COOGoldstein, a 25-year company veteran, had spent the previous 12 years as president and CEO of the company's largest cruise line, Royal Caribbean International.

"Adam has played a key role in growing Royal Caribbean International, step by step, into a global leader. In the course of doing so, he has become an impressive leader in his own right," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "In this new role, Adam will be able to put his broad worldview and strategic insights to use leading our varied cross-functional teams."

As well as working with Fain on the company's strategic direction, Goldstein's portfolio will include Human Resources, Information Technology, Supply Chain, Corporate Communications, Safety & Environment, Government Relations, Guest Port Operations and Commercial Development. "We believe that it's important for our brands to have their own personalities and business plans," Fain said. "But it's also important to pursue best practices, and to make sure that the insights we learn within individual lines can be applied to the entire company's benefit. When we do that, we are a stronger business," Fain said.

Goldstein said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"Royal Caribbean was a five-ship company when I arrived here, and today we are many times larger than that," Goldstein said. "We now have more than 60,000 employees taking our guests to every continent of the world, as well as the most technologically advanced ships at sea. The opportunity we have is to take even greater advantage of our global scale and knowledge, while delivering the guest satisfaction that helped us grow to where we are today."

Goldstein begins his new responsibilities immediately, Fain said. A search for a new leader for the Royal Caribbean International line is underway. In the meantime, Goldstein will assist with transition while he also takes up his new responsibilities.

"Today's announcement underscores the strength and stability of our company and its depth of leadership talent," Fain said. "We believe our strategy of appealing to vacationers around the world, matched with our commitment to innovation, safety and sensible growth, positions us well for the future. I am pleased to have Adam bring his skills to bear on bringing this strategy to life."

Goldstein joined the company in 1988, and served in a number of positions before taking the helm of Royal Caribbean International, including Senior Vice President, Total Guest Satisfaction; Senior Vice President, Marketing; and Corporate Secretary to the company's Board of Directors.

Goldstein is a member of the Washington-based Energy Security Leadership Council. He served on the board of the Travel Industry Association of America (now the U.S. Travel Association) from 1993 to 2012, and is a member of the advisory board for Our Kids, which is engaged in foster care and related services for Florida youth.

Goldstein graduated with honors from Princeton University. He also has a law degree from Harvard University and an MBA with distinction from the French business school INSEAD. Goldstein and his wife have two children and live in Coral Gables, FL.

British Food Producers Showcased P&O's Britannia
When Britain's biggest cruise ship launches next March it will showcase some of the finest artisan food and drink producers from the UK in a celebration of great British products.

British Food Producers Showcased P&O's BritanniaBritannia, the largest ship to be built exclusively for British passengers, will offer a sophisticated, contemporary holiday experience across health and beauty, shopping and entertainment with a strong focus on dining.

P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: "Traditionally people thought cruise ship food was all about quantity. On Britannia and on the rest of our fleet it is all about quality. Our mantra at the moment is "think differently" – particularly where it applies to the quality of food, variety, ingredients used and the expertise we have called upon to deliver this."

The company has introduced a Food Heroes concept with some of the biggest talent in the British culinary scene. These include James Martin, Eric Lanlard, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar and wine expert Olly Smith. There will also be other yet to be announced experts in the areas below who will ensure that P&O Cruises delivers "the best of the best from the best".

• Market Café featuring Eric Lanlard - a continental-style café/deli in the heart of the atrium, offering savoury bites, ice cream in grown up flavours (examples include mojito; pomegranate, orange & campari or walnut, celery & honey as well as perennial favourites) and the finest cakes and pastries by master pâtissier Eric Lanlard. There will also be charcuterie from some of Britain's finest artisan producers including smoked lamb, smoked venison and air dried meats. Eric will also be producing a premium seasonal Champagne afternoon tea served in the fine dining restaurant. Think Persian candy floss, lychee pearls and Earl Grey perfume, without a scone in sight.

• British chocolatiers – a menu of hot chocolate and cacao creations in the Market Café from leading British chocolatiers who will also be on board periodically for masterclasses in the art of bean to bar creations and giving expert tips on tempering and cooking with chocolate in both sweet and savoury dishes.

• British artisan cheeses - calling upon a renowned cheese specialist, there will be a showcase of award-winning cheeses from all corners of the UK and Europe in the Market Café as well as cheese and wine tastings in the Cookery Club with Olly Smith.

• The Great British G&T Menu - what could be more British than G&T? Britannia will be the only ship to offer a full menu of British artisan gin producers and the finest gins from around the world in The Blue Bar. There will be customized cocktails, gin tasting sessions, gin flights similar to the wine flights in The Glass House and a range of interesting mixers.

• The Great British Beer Menu – featuring over 70 ales, beers and ciders from every corner of Britain to create a beer map of the UK. These will be available in Brodie's bar.

• Epicurean restaurant – this speciality fine dining restaurant will be the place to go for a stunning, contemporary menu of molecular cooking, home smoking, ingredients with real provenance and even flaming jellies!

Britannia will also have The Cookery Club with James Martin, a dedicated cookery school with 24 stations for creating culinary masterpieces with the experts themselves as well as regular guest chefs.

In the Glass House, Olly Smith will be selecting a brand new range of around 40 wines to enjoy by the glass including new labels from Japan, Greece and Croatia. There will also be a new menu of small plates such as sea bass ceviche with lime, main courses such as a Wagu beef burger, Morecombe Bay & Devon crab sliders and lobster buns as well as a selection of great British pies and sharing puddings.

Edgington continued: "Through the strength of our food and cooking experiences Britannia will appeal to a whole new group of people who have never before considered cruising as a holiday option. These are indeed exciting times."

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Carnival LIVE Concert Series Debuts

The official launch of the Carnival LIVE Concert Series kicked off last week with sold-out performances by world-renowned rock band Styx. Fans packed the show lounges on Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination for an intimate, captivating live performance that brought audiences to their feet.  Check out the video recapping the debut of Carnival LIVE featuring Styx.

Carnival LIVE Concert Series kicked off last week with sold-out performances by world-renowned rock band StyxThe Carnival LIVE Concert Series offers guests sailing on select Carnival Cruise Lines ships the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive onboard performance by a diverse roster of popular music artists while ships are docked at a port of call. Carnival has booked 49 performance dates for the 2014 concert series with the following artists:

  • 38 Special
  • Chicago
  • Daughtry
  • Foreigner
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • Jennifer Hudson
  • Jewel
  • Kansas
  • Lady Antebellum
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Martina McBride
  • Olivia Newton-John
  • REO Speedwagon
  • STYX
  • Trace Adkins

Commented Tommy Shaw, guitarist for Styx, "All I know is our boats were rockin'. We had a great time and it looked like our fans loved it, too. Can't wait to do it again in the fall in Nassau and then in Catalina Island and Cozumel."

Added Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations for Carnival Cruise Lines, "Carnival strives to provide an unforgettable vacation experience for our guests and this unique opportunity to enjoy a favorite band up close and personal in such an exciting and intimate setting is truly awesome.  What an amazing way to relive memories through music and even better to create new ones with family and friends."

Performances are scheduled on board eight Carnival ships that call in the following ports: Cozumel, Mexico; Nassau, the Bahamas; and Catalina Island, California. Artists join the ship while in port, perform in the main show lounge that evening, and debark following their show.

Tickets cost $20-40 each and a limited number of VIP tickets are also available for each show for $100-$150 each. The VIP experience includes an artist meet and greet, complimentary photo with the band, seating in the first three rows and a commemorative laminated concert pass. All tickets can be purchased through Carnival's online shore excursion system prior to sailing, or on board participating ships at the shore excursion desk based on availability.

Carnival Dream, Sails On Inaugural Cruise From Big Easy

New Orleans' largest year-round cruise ship, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, will depart on its inaugural six-day cruise from New Orleans this afternoon, further solidifying Carnival's distinction of the port's largest cruise operator with two ships carrying more than 400,000 passengers annually – the most of any cruise line.

Carnival Dream, Sails On Inaugural Cruise From Big EasyThe special six-day voyage, visiting Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), and Cozumel, will depart from the newly refurbished Erato Street Cruise Terminal, which has undergone a $2.3 million upgrade to accommodate a ship as large as the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream.

Beginning April 20, Carnival Dream will launch year-round seven-day service from New Orleans offering three distinctly different itineraries – western Caribbean cruises visiting Montego Bay, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman; or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize and Cozumel; and a Bahamas/Florida route calling at Key West, Freeport and Nassau.  Carnival Dream joins Carnival Elation which sails year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico.

A study by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) found that spending by Carnival and other cruise operators in Louisiana topped $399 million in 2012, generating 7,548 jobs and $294 million in personal income. CLIA also ranked New Orleans the sixth largest cruise port in the U.S.

The 1,004-foot-long Carnival Dream offers a host of on-board innovations, including WaterWorks featuring a 303-foot-long Twister water slide – among the longest at sea – as well as a luxurious 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, a half-mile outdoor promenade with whirlpools that extend out over the ship's sides, and more than two dozen bars, restaurants and lounges, including the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Also featured is a Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez with nearly two dozen family-friendly and adult-oriented comedy shows per voyage. Carnival Dream also offers fun, supervised activities for children in three age groups and later this year will add Seuss at Sea, part of a fleetwide partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises featuring exciting youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences inspired by the amazing world of Dr. Seuss.

Carnival Dream also includes a stunning indoor/outdoor café/live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza as well as the Seaside Theatre, a 270-square-foot LED screen displaying concerts, sporting events and nightly Dive-In Movies.

A variety of spacious accommodations are also available, with dozens of suites and a wide selection of balcony staterooms, including unique cove balconies located closer to the water offering outstanding sea views. There are also ocean view staterooms with a full bath plus separate wash room and five-berth staterooms that are ideal for families.

"New Orleans is one of our most popular homeports and Carnival Dream provides vacationers with a spectacular ‘Fun Ship' cruise option from the Big Easy offering an incredible array of on-board innovations," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and CEO.  "Further, the arrival of Carnival Dream significantly expands our capacity in New Orleans, which is a direct result of the combined efforts of port and local officials and our valued travel agent partners who have been instrumental in supporting our New Orleans cruise program," he added.

Commented Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange, “The arrival of the Carnival Dream is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a strong commitment by Port of New Orleans officials, tourism leaders and Carnival Cruise Lines to build strong cruising demand from the Crescent City. The ship’s amenities and features are second to none. We’re thrilled to welcome the Carnival Dream as a year-round resident of the Port and City of New Orleans.”

Oasis of the Seas to Feature Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS
Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship will be bringing the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of CATS to the high seas. Based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS was one of the longest running productions on Broadway and is the winner of numerous awards including seven Tonys, two Oliviers and a Grammy. The show has been seen in over 20 countries and translated into more than 10 languages. The fully licensed production of CATS will join Oasis of the Seas once it completes its drydock in fall 2014.

Oasis of the Seas to Feature Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS"We are thrilled to be workingwith The Really Useful Group to bring one of the world's most beloved musicals to Oasis of the Seas," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "Adding CATS to our already amazing line up of Broadway musicals such as Hairspray, Chicago: The Musical, Saturday Night Fever and Mamma Mia! exemplify our commitment to bringing top quality entertainment to our guests at no extra cost."

Oasis of the Seas features exclusive amenities and concepts throughout its seven themed neighborhoods, such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the Aquatheater high-diving performance venue, and Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. Oasis of the Seas also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H20 Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others. For an extensive collection of webisodes detailing the variety of experiences aboard Oasis of the Seas, please visit http://tinyurl.com/bw585wa

Launched in December 2009, Oasis of the Seas has been heralded as an architectural marvel at sea, spanning 16 decks, encompassing 225,282 gross registered tons, and with a double-occupancy capacity of 5,400 guests. Oasis of the Seas is first ship to tout the cruise line's neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, comprising Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 36.48 - 3.18%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 51.04 - 3.26%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.02 - 0.66%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 29.91 - 4.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which ocean liner and cruise ship has the distinction of having sailed with one, two and three funnels over her long career?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2008@travelpage.com

Last Week's Question - Some of the inside cabins P&O's s/s Canberra had an interesting feature that made them brighter than inside cabins on most other cruise ships. What was the feature?

Answer - The interesting feature that Canberra had that made some of the inside cabins were windows that looked out into a "court". These cabins, called "court cabins", were built in such a way that the they were staggered down the corridor and the wall of the innermost cabin jutted slightly passed that of the more outer cabin and had a window placed there - thus light from the outside would penetrate these inside cabins. They were usually 3 deep.
Timothy Edgecombe

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